Are you planning a beach wedding in the Riviera Maya of Mexico? Or anywhere in the Caribbean for that matter? Chances are good that by now you’ve heard chatter about an unsightly, smelly phenomenon that has been plaguing our shores since last winter. Officially, it is called Sargassum. Some refer to it as seagrass, seaweed or algae. Whatever you choose to call it, we can all agree on one thing; it’s gross!
I see questions about the sargassum popping up regularly now from you Bride-to-Be’s planning a Caribbean wedding. What is it? How bad is it? How long will it be on the beaches? And most importantly, How will it affect my wedding?
What is Sargassum?
Sargassum seaweed comes from the Sargasso Sea. In short, the Sargasso Sea is actually a very cool, unique ecosystem likened to a golden, floating rainforest. It is the only sea on earth that does not have a land boundary, meaning that it does not have a coastline anywhere. Think of it as being held together by currents in the middle of the north Atlantic ocean.
The Sargasso seagrass may be causing ugly problems on our beaches, but it plays a critical role in supporting endangered ocean life cycles, and it’s important to note that it is not dangerous to us in any way.
How bad is the Seagrass?
Well…that depends. Here’s the frustrating part about all this mess; It can be incredibly bad for weeks on end, piling up on the beaches to such an extent that it can’t be cleared away quickly enough. (Check out some images of just how bad it has been!) But then one day you will wander down the beach, and there will be beautiful, crystal clear Caribbean ocean again! It really is the strangest thing. Right now we are experiencing a wonderful extended break from the sargassum. Here’s an idea of what we saw on our beaches yesterday, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?
It also seems that your location on the stretch of the Riviera Maya affects how much seaweed you will be dealing with. Generally speaking, it has been worse further south, towards Tulum, and clearer in the north towards Cancun. However, nowhere seems to have been completely immune to it!
How long will the sargassum be on the beaches?
The truth? I don’t think that anybody knows! There are a lot of theories out there. It seems that most people fall within two camps of scientific opinion. Some Scientists believe that this is simply an El Nino phenomenon, and with the passing of this cycle, we will see an end to the seagrass. This means that the sargassum could be gone for good any day now! (Fingers crossed….I like these Scientists….)
However, other Scientists believe that this is Mother Nature telling us she is unhappy! This could be further evidence of global climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures could be to blame for the increased amount of sargassum this year. It may also be linked to fertilizers and other pollutants that have made their way into the oceans, essentially fertilizing the seagrass, and causing it to grow faster and in larger amounts. These Scientists tell us to prepare for this as the new normal. (Uuuuuuuuuuugh!)
Either way, the Mexican Government has devised strategies for dealing with the sargassum, so our hope is that we can expect our Riviera Maya beaches to be back to their normal, impossibly stunning selves, very soon!
Yes, But how will it affect my wedding?
This is a tough one, and you will get a different answer depending on who you talk to. However, the reality is that nobody seems to know the true cause for the massive amount of sargassum washing up on our beaches, and so nobody can tell us with any certainty when (or if!) it will be gone. The truth is that it may or may not be here for your Wedding Day. Yup, I know, that’s not what you wanted to hear!
My best advice is to plan for it’s presence at your wedding. That way, you will not be disappointed! I understand you do not want this stuff in your wedding photos, of course you don’t! However, I can assure you that using a professional, experienced wedding photographer based in the Mayan Riviera, is your best defense against an unsightly backdrop ruining your wedding photos. We have all been working with seagrass in the background for the better part of a year now! A local Riviera Maya Photographer knows the beaches, knows the angles, and has learned how to make magic with the presence of the sargassum seagrass. Ask to see wedding pictures from recent beach weddings before choosing your destination wedding photographer, and judge for yourself how they handle working with this stuff!
If you still have questions, we would love to hear them! And if you want to see how WE have dealt with the sargassum in wedding photos, we would love to show you!
***And of course, if you are looking for a fabulously talented wedding photographer with tons of personality in the Riviera Maya, then contact us today for a free consultation!