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Authorities on Mexico’s Caribbean coast are battling an “alarming” invasion of foul-smelling brown algae, which has piled up on the region’s beaches.
The algae, known as sargassum, is washing up on the shores of white, sandy beaches just as tourists begin to return to the country following the pandemic, according to a an ABC News report.
“We can say the current situation is alarming,” said Navy Secretary José Ojeda, who has been leading operations to gather sargassum at sea, before it hits the beaches.
The Navy currently has 11 sargassum-collecting boats in the Caribbean.
So much algae is reaching the beaches that hotels and local authorities are reportedly using bulldozers and backhoes to collect the seaweed-like plant.
The large machinery also picks up sand and contributes to beach erosion, said Rosa Rodríguez Martínez, a biologist in the beachside town of Puerto Morelos who studies reefs and coastal ecosystems for Mexico’s National Autonomous University.
“There is so much sargassum that you can’t use small-scale equipment anymore, you have to use the heavy stuff, and when the excavators come in, they remove more sand,” she told the news outlet.
Experts fear that the current sargassum accumulation could top records set in 2018.