At the height of the Caribbean summer, Cancun's iconic golden beaches have turned green as tonnes of seaweed wash up on the shore. The gulfweed algae stretches more than 110 miles and has been washing ashore continuously in recent weeks, said officials.
Concerned the seaweed will blight Cancun's image for pristine beaches, authorities have put earth-movers and a team of men into action on the beaches, to remove the unsightly algae from the surface and bury it under the sand. Cancun hotel manager, Walter Espinoza, said that some of his guests have not been happy with the seaweed surge.
"We have some guests that were not very happy when they arrived and we tried to talk to them and also we have some options, like you can see we have some boats and we're taking guests to other beaches that aren't suffering from this amount of seaweed that we have here," he said.
British tourist, Jonathan, admitted he was somewhat disappointed by the green invasion: "It's a little frustrating. It's not enough to ruin the holiday but it is frustrating because the beach and the sand are so good for the seaweed to then prevent you from going into the sea. It is a little annoying," he said.
Although the cause of the algae – officially known as sargassum – has not yet been confirmed, experts say it could be put down to high levels of ocean nutrients, changing sea currents or wind patterns. Eduardo Mariscal, an official at the Attention for the Federal Marine Zone, said that the algae is not all bad news and burying it will help protect Mexico's golden Caribbean coastline.
"We always need to be strengthening the coastline, to protect our beach from natural erosion, from the wind and the sea. So burying this gulfweed strengthens the coast, our beach is stronger and can resist the wind," he said.
Sargassum is usually distributed in temperate, tropical seas across the world and takes its name from the Atlantic's Sargasso Sea where large amounts of the algae are hosted.