Seaweed is not garbage or pollution, but the large amounts that reach the Caribbean coast, and are projected to continue arriving this and the next few years, represent an economic and environmental problem for countries such as the Dominican Republic that are affected by their invasion.
The avalanche of these algae, which according to scientific studies are pushed to the Caribbean coast due to climate change, causes complaints among tourists who visit Dominican destinations attracted by the supply of sun and beach, but also pollute the waters, and can affect both humans and marine ecosystems.
The amount of seaweed accumulated on the beaches of Punta Cana can vary day by day and month after month, The hotels have adapted to the task of cleaning the beach every day, 2018 was a year of negative incidence in the months of March, April and May, in February 2019 there has been a decrease in accumulation, The hotels have adapted to the task of cleaning the beach every day, some resort has installed a net to catch the seaweed.
Some areas are more affected than others but it is impossible to predict and can change quickly, It cannot be said that the problem of seaweed is seasonal, but there is a notable increase in relation to past years.
You can follow the social networks of the hotels to see updated photos of the beaches before making your trip, don’t let it affect your trip. At the end of this topic you will find some live web cams of the beaches in Punta Cana, so you can verify in real time the status of some beaches.
Do all beaches in Punta Cana have seaweed?
Generally, when there is a lot of seaweed, it touches all the beaches and hotels in the area of Punta Cana, in the summer months when the waters are warmer there is usually more concentration of seaweed on all the beaches, obviously the concentration of seaweed is not uniform throughout the coast of Punta Cana, there are sections of beach that can be more affected than others, the only constant is that all the hotels have a staff dedicated to cleaning the coast during the days of abundance of seaweed.
Seaweed barrier in Punta Cana and Bavaro
Of 31 kilometers of beach area in the hotels of Bávaro, there is a barrier with 12.7 kilometers, equivalent to a coverage of 40%. To be more specific, it indicates that 95% of the area of Punta Cana-Cap Cana is protected with anti-seize barriers, in Cabeza de Toro 48%, Bavaro 17% and Uvero Alto 0%.
There are zones In Bavaro where these are not effective if breakwaters are not installed before because the coral reef is devastated and this causes the waters to run harder.
Where there are no barriers, hoteliers collect seaweed mechanically, which can impact the environment by taking sand in the process.
Anti-seize barriers are the option that the country must continue to apply, although in other places they have not been as successful and the seaweed kept are not visually attractive.
Which months are the most likely to produce seaweed in Punta Cana?
Because seaweed has been found to reproduce more in hot weather, the months where they are most likely to be found on some beaches coincide with the hottest months of the year, although the climate in Punta Cana is relatively warm all year round. The months from April to October are the hottest months of the year, with August and September being the hottest.
Above 20º C algae tend to reproduce more. In addition to this increase in sea water temperatures, many industries release fertilizers into the sea, which are a source of extra food for the algae and cause them to increase in size and extension at an alarming rate. Changes in wind patterns and sea currents are also being altered and, if you add them to a greater quantity of algae, there is a massive dragging and accumulation on the shores, leading to a serious environmental problem.
Facing the problem of Seaweed in Punta Cana
Faced with the challenge of facing its massive arrival, barriers in the region have been installed and tests have been carried out to recycle the sargassum with multiple purposes such as fertilizers, chemical compounds, biofuels or biogas, including clothing and footwear.
However, more studies and public-private initiatives are needed to overcome the uncertain availability of sargassum and the properties of this seaweed whose impact in the country has motivated meetings between hotel entrepreneurs and President Danilo Medina in the National Palace.
A hotel in the tourist area of Punta Cana, temporarily lost its Blue Flag category and Red Flag was placed due to the amount of seaweed on the beach. They always clean the beach, but they had a disproportionate avalanche of their ability to respond and the seaweed accumulated.
The Blue Flag is an international recognition granted by the Foundation for Environmental Education to facilities that have demanding environmental quality standards. The Red category is placed when these criteria are not met and the visitor makes use of the beach at his own risk.
Possible alternative solutions to face the seaweed problem in the Dominican Republic
Since 2015, the Ministry of Environment called for proposals on uses of sargassum. Otto Cordero, in charge of Integrated Ecosystem Management of that institution, shows that several projects arrived. 80% propose using algae as fertilizer; Another is to convert it into biogas.
Faced with the proposals to fertilize with sargassum, scientific warnings are placed on salinization of the soils, because of the number of metals and salts it contains. Just in 2015, the Laboratory of the General Directorate of Customs conducted a prospective study on the chemical composition of sargassum that arrives in the country.
They sampled the two known varieties: Sargassum natans and Sargassum fluitans on beaches of Boca Chica, Guayacanes and Barahona.
They found that both varieties contain “slightly elevated levels of Hg (mercury), which could limit the use of biomass.” They also found the content of Ascanio, yttrium and 14 lanthanides, known as rare earth, at higher levels than in the oceans. “Every year we do onsite evaluations to verify the Blue Flag beaches.
In one of the visits we made to a beach in Cabeza de Toro it was observed that there was a large accumulation of sargassum and, although we did not take it into account for certification, because it is not garbage, there was a strong stench that felt from the entrance, ”says Daniela Cifontes, one of the Blue Flag technicians in the country.
Another proposed use for sargassum is to convert it into activated carbon that is used in the water filtration industry. A study led by Intec researcher Yolanda León, resulted in high quality activated carbon.
In the Dominican Republic, there is a research project of the Algeanova company that has already reached an agreement with the biotechnology company Grogenics, from Canada.
They has designed formula for a compound that will be 60% algae and 40% tree pruning to produce fertilizer. Algeanova made the first test of sargassum transformation on June 5 and publicized it on their social networks.
Transforming seaweed into disposable plates
Algeanova is a company based in the Dominican Republic that provides the services of maritime cleaning and placement of barriers, to transform these algae, Algeanova has more than one project. For about three years, they thought of turning sargassum into disposable containers, they have the machinery to produce about 2,000 dishes a day.
Punta Cana live webcam
Most resorts and hotels in Punta Cana have live cameras overlooking the beach, here I will be sharing live cameras . Some videos are updated every 20 seconds, I will be bringing the live cameras I find, if any of the links do not work I would appreciate if you would let me know by message.