Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a tropical vacation in Puerto Rico, but are hesitant to book a trip after hearing about the seaweed problem plaguing a lot of the Caribbean. Here is all you need to know about the issue and what the country of Puerto Rico is doing about it.
Seaweed was first noticed to be increasing in certain areas in the Caribbean in 2011. By 2016, the problem became so bad that many were canceling vacation plans due to the large amounts of seaweed collection on the beaches in the Western Caribbean.
This specific seaweed, also known as sargassum, is a brown seaweed filled with oxygen which makes it buoyant and it clumps together in huge masses and then washes up on the beach.
It seems to come and go throughout the year, but the worst time for Puerto Rico is during the summer months. Global warming and rising ocean temperatures as well as storms have added to the problem that seaweed will become in 2022.
But the good news is that many Caribbean countries have been teaming up to form task forces to combat the current problem and find long term solutions.
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Does Puerto Rico have a seaweed problem in 2022?
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico is on the main front line when it comes to sargassum.
There is a large area in the Atlantic Ocean known as the Sargasso Sea which is over 2 million square miles large and known as the rain forest of the ocean due to the nutrients it provides marine life such as turtles.
Thought to have originated off the coast of South America, the ocean currents determine where the seaweed travels to and can often be unpredictable.
Puerto Rico is on the eastern side of the Caribbean and has extreme exposure to this pesky seaweed that washes up on the beach, decomposes and then stinks like a rotten egg.
Sargassum infestations are more prevalent on the east coast of Caribbean islands, and oftentimes the west coast is spared. Puerto Rico is no different with the most hard hit areas being the southeast part of the island, whereas the northwest shoreline is not as bad.
Current seaweed conditions in Puerto Rico
As mentioned above, the worst seaweed conditions currently in Puerto Rico remain on the east coast and the southern area of the island.
The area from Playa Fortuna to Playa Las Palmas isn’t terribly bad at the moment except in certain areas. The majority of the southern coast line isn’t looking so great, except for the Santa Isabel area.
The good news is the San Juan area and the north and west coast seems to have been spared so far this year.
If you are planning a trip to Puerto Rico, you might want to look for accommodations in the north and west and check if there is a live webcam in the town for the most current conditions.
👉🏻 Check out the best sargassum-free beachfront accommodation🏨 options in Puerto Rico
|Accomodation type 💵||Hotel🏨||Region📍|
|Budget||Ponce Plaza Hotel & Casino||Santa Isabel area|
|Mid-range||Caribe Hotel Ponce||Santa Isabel area|
|Luxury||Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa||Santa Isabel area|
|Budget||Posada Colonial||San Juan|
|Mid-range||El Colonial||San Juan|
|Luxury||Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino||San Juan|
There is also a website called Sargassum Monitoring that provides live feeds of Puerto Rico that are updated a few times a day.
Seaweed forecast for the year 2022 in Puerto Rico
Well this isn’t entirely easy to predict since conditions change and currents shift, but the seaweed forecast for Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean isn’t looking so great with rising ocean temperatures in the summer heat.
The Optical Oceanography Laboratory of the University of South Florida, has been monitoring the situation and has seen an increase of more than 100% of sargassum throughout the Caribbean in the last 6 months.
The good news is that sargassum tends to appear in 3 year life cycles so if the bloom continues to be high this year, then most likely it will subside for a few years.
Also, the seaweed problem gets worse in the summer months so possibly by late fall or winter, it could be a lot better.
What measures is the Puerto Rican government or local authorities taking to address the seaweed problem?
Unfortunately, Puerto Rico has been a little late to join the rest of the Caribbean in the fight against protecting beaches from sargassum.
Puerto Rico has been absent in a lot of the regional summits that create international management strategies for the seaweed.
Without a united front, municipal areas of Puerto Rico have been taking matters into their own hands.
The Palmas del Mar complex built a wall in the water and purchased ships to help extract the sargassum.
With limited resources, most areas do not have the money to deal with sargassum bursts. There are local organizations who have collected money to combat the problem.
Nonetheless, there is hope on the horizon. Many government authorities throughout the Caribbean, as well as private business entrepreneurs are seeing the benefits of the nutrient rich sargassum.
Some are turning the seaweed to animal feed and/or building materials and there is research being conducted on how to use sargassum into methane as an alternative energy source.
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