As detailed here, rotting mounds of sargassum on our shores release arsenic and other heavy metals into the environment, spew noxious H₂S fumes, repel nesting turtles, trap turtle hatchlings, bring plastics ashore, cause beach erosion from manual removal, and harm the health of workers who do the removal work.
At the same time, excess sargassum in the water:
- Reduces sunlight for flora & fauna
- Creates anoxia from H₂S gas
- Degrades reefs
- Reduces biodiversity
- Provides a “raft” for invasive species
Even the manual removal of sargassum from the beach can cause profound environmental impacts to beach erosion and to mangroves and groundwater when it is not properly disposed of.
Mitigating these scientifically proven environmental harms is one of the main reasons the HMB Sargassum Project was founded in 2019. A link to the scientific studies we reviewed at the start of the project can be found on the Resources Page of this website, along with a guide to Best Practices for Removing Sargassum from Beaches.
Of course, any effort to mitigate environmental harm must always be closely monitored to ensure it achieves stated goals without unintentionally causing any new environmental harms. This is why fundraising for the HMB Sargassum Project sought not only $375,000 for the manufacture and installation of a sargassum barrier outside the reef in Half Moon Bay but also included an additional $100,000 in “Sustainable Financing”.
We are still actively engaged in raising the "Sustainable Financing" funds that will allow us to ACT IMMEDIATELY to mitigate any unexpected environmental damage that might result from installing a sargassum barrier outside the reef in Half Moon Bay.
We are also coordinating with the Centro Ecologico de Akumal (CEA), a local environmental group that has volunteered to monitor whether the barrier might have any unintended impacts on nesting turtles or their hatchlings. As detailed in this announcement, CEA has already shared some alarming statistics for the 2023 turtle nesting season and is already studying which of four major changes in our local environment, including barrier installation, may be contributing to the nesting issue. This document details additional nesting data CEA is compiling to build on their multi-year data on nesting on Half Moon Bay
Even if you don’t support the barrier, itself, we urge everyone who cares about environmental issues to donate to our environmental contingency fund. These funds will give us the flexibility to respond quickly if we determine that the barrier causes unexpected environmental impacts such as
- excess accummulations along the rocky southern shores or
- adverse impacts on the local nesting turtles and their hatchlings
North Akumal can become a role model in environmental stewardship by embracing the idea of “sustainable financing” for the barrier project. This approach requires appending an additional 25% to the budget of any new construction so that contingency funds are immediately available to mitigate any environmental harms that might unexpectedly result from the project.
Please contribute to the “sustainable financing” contingency fund to ensure the barrier will not harm our local marine life, including our beloved nesting turtles and their hatchlings.