Sargassum Blooms Plague Mexican Beaches, Affecting Tourism

How Sargassum Can Be Stopped Before It Reaches the Shore

Masses of sargassum are washing up on Caribbean beaches, hurting tourism, ravaging ecosystems, and overwhelming beaches. In Cancún, previously pristine beaches are covered in the large brown seaweed that usually floats in the ocean.

So, what can be done?

The first step in controlling sargassum is to understand where it is coming from, why the bloom is so large, and how to prevent it from coming ashore to rot.

Predicting Sargassum Blooms

As sargassum blooms and creeps toward shorelines, it’s only natural to wonder how much will be coming in the next few months.

The University of South Florida Optical Oceanography Lab’s Satellite-based Sargassum Watch System (SaWS) offers insight into how much, where, and when the sargassum is coming. This program uses satellite data and numerical models to detect and track sargassum as it moves.

SaWS recently released its sargassum outlookbulletin for June and some information about the coming months. The bulletin confirmed the high amount of sargassum beaching in the Caribbean, as well as large amounts in the central west Atlantic Ocean and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

While the estimated sargassum this year is less than was recorded in 2018, which saw more than 20 million metric tons, the total estimated amount this year is supposed to be greater than 10 million metric tons, which is greater than 2015’s sargassum conditions.

Sargassum Watch System at a Glance:
  • Large amounts of sargassum are predicted for July and August in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.
  • This year’s sargassum bloom is the second highest recorded year for the same month.
  • Total estimated amount of sargassum is greater than 10 million metric tons so far this year.
The exact amount of sargassum present on beaches will be determined by ocean tides, circulations, and winds. As mentioned above, the sargassum watch system is an estimation, not a direct prediction.

Caribbean Beaches Struggling with Sargassum

Recently, Mexico enlisted  its Navy to remove the sargassum from some of its beaches and water using heavy machinery. The government hoped this would be cost-efficient, but despite its best efforts the problem may have only gotten worse.

Because of this intense sargassum build-up in the Caribbean, representatives from several countries gathered on June 27 in Cancún to discuss strategies to combat sargassum on Caribbean beaches.

Some of the Caribbean countries in attendance:
  • Mexico
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • The Dominican Republic
  • Jamaica
  • Trinidad and Tobago
Officials met not to solve the sargassum problem outright, but to collaborate between each other to better coordinate solutions. Some of those solutions included supporting extra research into the sargassum bloom and developing a warning system similar to ones we have for other natural phenomena.

Typical, But Ineffective, Methods of Sargassum Control

A typical method of sargassum control is to remove it directly from the beaches, but this has its problems. Simply removing the sargassum from the Caribbean shorelines, either by hand or with costly equipment that needs to be maintained, is a tedious, short-term task, rather than a long-term solution. 

When you remove it from the beach, you must have a designated area, away from the public, where you can dispose of it due to its corrosive, toxic nature when it decomposes.

Rotting sargassum problems:
  • Emits toxic, corrosive gas
  • Attracts invasive insects
  • Destabilizes beaches, causing erosion
Unlike other sargassum clean-up methods, a floating containment boom can last awhile and doesn’t require multiple clean-up attempts. This solution meets the sargassum where it exists—in the water.

A Good Solution:Stop Sargassum from Coming Onshore

An effective solution for sargassum control is to stop it while it is still mobile and floating in the water.

Sargassum floats because its berry-like pneumatocysts are filled with air and provide buoyancy on the surface of the water in rafts. Floating rafts of sargassum provide needed habitats for fish, turtles, crabs, and birds.

Sargassum itself is not bad, but problems arise when it grows at an exponential rate as a result of nutrient-rich waters from fertilizer runoff and pollution. If the sargassum is creeping onshore in exponential amounts before it can sink, containing it away from shore is the best solution. 

Cost effective solutions to controlling sargassum include using a floating containment boom, also called a floating barrier. These floating barriers contain:
  • Trash
  • Debris
  • Seaweed
Using a permanent barrier, that won’t allow sargassum to wash over it and requires minimal attention, will keep more sargassum away from the shore for a longer period of time. A permanent barrier is a great solutionfor resorts and hotels, who want to keep their beachfronts clean for guests and swimmers.

Keeping the beaches clean is essential for hotels and businesses around Quintana Roo and Playa del Carmen to survive. For Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres, tourism is at stake with the invasion of sargassum.

Floating Seaweed Barrier

The benefits of a floating seaweed barrier are abundant. For one, they keep sargassum away from beach goers. Once installed, floating barriers need inspections twice a week or after intense weather. 

As sargassum is contained in the barrier, the beach stays clean, and the need for widespread cleanup is eliminated.

Working to remove sargassum from pristine beaches, and ensuring that it doesn’t come back, requires the right tools. The Orion Aquatic Plantand Containment Boom from GEI Works deflects and diverts sargassum from shorelines all while effectively containing it.

Inspect your sargassum containment boom to make sure that is performing at its highest level. Twice a week, check the boom, connections, lines, and buoys for functionality. Also, remove any build-up of sargassum that could threaten the boom.

The best practices for keeping and maintaininga sargassum containment boom can be simple.

Contact GEI Works to receive help and to discuss your sargassum issues at +1-772-646-0597.

Hurricane Tracking and Preparation with New Forecasting Tools

Hurricane Tracking in the Atlantic

Forecasting Severe Storms in Real Time to Better Prepare for Them

Hurricane activity in the Atlantic is supposed to be near-normal this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
NOAA used hurricane tracking to predict 9 to 15 named storms in 2019, 4 to 8 of which could be hurricanes, and 2 to 4 of which could become major hurricanes.


But, can NOAA's hurricane forecasting be improved upon? With the right information, sure it can.

With more up-to-date information, NOAA’s ability to predict storms will improve and, in turn, the public’s ability to prepare for storms will improve as well.  

Preparing for storms well in advance is one of the best ways to survive them. Knowing how to prepare and what hurricane supplies are needed is also important.  With NOAA’s forecasting systems getting new information soon, knowing when to prepare for future storms will be essential.

But, what are these changes to NOAA’s forecasting system and how do they work?
Changes to NOAA’s  Global Forecast System are coming in the form of six new satellites that will orbit the earth’s equator.

This system of six weather satellites is called COSMIC-2, or the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate.

It’s part of a join effort between the U.S. Air Force, NOAA, Taiwan’s National Space Organization, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, built on the success of the COSMIC-1 program, launched in 2006, which established a climate change thermometer and a global weather forecast.

How NOAA Tracks for Hurricanes

This system of satellites will better track hurricanes around the equator where they are first formed. COSMIC-2 will use radio occultation data to improve weather forecasting models.

How does it all work? Radio occultation is the measurement of how radio waves from global positioning systems and constellations bend as they move through the atmosphere.

GPS satellites circle the equator and send signals down to receivers on earth. Because the density of the earth’s atmosphere changes with height, these signals get distorted along the way. COSMIC-2 hurricane tracking satellites measure the bend in those signals before they’re cut off by the horizon.

These measurements that COSMIC-2 satellites take give scientists real-time information on temperature, pressure, density, and water vapor, all of which are valuable data that scientists can use to track hurricanes.

At a glance, COSMIC-2 satellites measure these in the atmosphere:

  •          Temperature
  •          Pressure
  •          Density
  •          Water Vapor
Preparing for Hurricanes Before They Strike
Making sure your business is fully equipped to safely ride through a storm is essential. Once COSMIC-2’s information is up and running, meteorologists will have a better idea of when severe weather will strike, but you can start preparing for hurricanes now. 

Hurricane essentials for businesses are:

  • Potable water
  • Back-up fuel supply
  • Flood protection
  • Durable tarp covering

Potable Water Storage During Hurricanes

Clean drinking water is usually the first thing everyone puts on their hurricane supply list. That’s because having a supply of clean, potable water for everyday needs is essential. When dealing with the after-effects of a storm, having an emergency water storage tank can be a life saver.

Bladder water tanks are built for safe water storage with durable fabric that meets FDA potable water requirements. GEI Works’ Mars Water Bladder Tanks range in size from 25 gallons to 210,000 gallons.

The emergency water storage onion tanks are easy to set up and made with durable fabric. GEI Works’ Hydrostar Onion Tank can be custom-made with fabric suitable for drinking water. Onion tanks are self rising, self supporting, and fold easily for convenient storage. Low side onion water tanks range from 250 to 10,000 gallons, and high side onion water tanks range from 500 to 10,000 gallons.

Frame tanks are also a valuable tool for water storage. GEI Works’ Centaur frame tank can be quickly set up and filled with water for emergency storage. Having a water storage tank with a liner made with FDA approved materials for potable water is essential. Frame tanks like these range in size from 500 to 5,000 gallons.

Tarp Protection from Wind and Rain

Protecting materials during a hurricane means covering equipment like dumpsters, dump trucks, and secondary containment vessels against rain, wind, and flying debris. GEI Works’ tarps are water proof and leak resistant and can be made in customizable sizes to protect valuable equipment.

Flood Barriers for Storm Surge Protection

Hurricane-force winds bring with them rising oceans and flood waters. Using a flood barrier to protect against flash floods and hurricane storm surge offers higher protection as opposed to smaller sandbags.

GEI Works’ flood barriers can be filled with sand, gravel, or even concrete. Using bulk bags for flood protection is a viable choice for flood protection, as bulk bags offer a larger line of defense than sandbags.

Fuel Tank Preparation during a Storm
Having gasoline is essential during times of severe weather, when generators, vehicles, and other machines might require it. Once the storm has passed, gas trailers might not be able to get through to replenish stations if roads are blocked and power lines are down.

Being  able to store fuel safely on your property will save worry in the long run . A collapsible tank for stationary fuel storage solves this problem. Flexible  fuel tanks come in small and large sizes; smaller bladders come in sizes from 25 to 5,000 gallons and larger bladders comes in sizes from 5,000 to 210,000 gallons.

Looking Forward to New Information in Hurricane Tracking
The COSMIC-2 satellites launched last week on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. Once in orbit, the satellites will be tested for seven months before any data are used in weather models. COSMIC-2 will also fly two space weather science payloads: a radio frequency beacon transmitter and an ion velocity meter to gather even more information.

COSMIC-2 information at a glance:

  • Comprised of six hurricane tracking satellites orbiting Earth's equator
  • Measures changes in atmosphere
  • Gives real-time data to scientists for hurricane tracking
The technology for predicting natural disasters won’t stop them from occurring, but it will make it easier to know when they’re coming. However, we already know the best time to prepare for a storm is now.

Bolstering  Hurricane Forecasting

The information provided by these satellites will help meteorologists and scientists better observe and track hurricanes, typhoons, and other destructive weather systems.

In recent years, in the U.S. particularly, hurricanes have wreaked havoc. Costly hurricanes, like Harvey, Maria, and Irma just in 2017 alone, slammed into the coasts, causing damage with wind, storm surge, and flooding further inland.

Knowing what’s coming will help, but being proactive about hurricane preparedness is the best possible plan.

Have questions about how  you can better prepare your business for hurricanes? To learn more about GEI Works, contact us at +1-772-646-0597 to receive one-on-one assistance with all your hurricane season preparedness needs.