Sargassum seaweed could affect tourism in Negril, says hotelier
Negril Chamber of Commerce president and hotelier, Richard Wallace removing garbage trapped in Sargassum seaweed that covered the Negril beach on Monday.

WESTMORELAND, Jamaica — Guests have reportedly deserted Negril’s famous seven-mile, white sand beach after large swathes of it were covered by Sargassum seaweed.

"It is going to affect tourism. It is affecting the beach tremendously right now. People don't want to swim. It looks awful," president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce and hotelier, Richard Wallace, told OBSERVER ONLINE.

There were rough seas after Tropical Storm Ian passed to the far western end of Negril last week. Calm returned to the waters on Sunday, however, things took a turn for the worse Monday morning. Large volumes of the seaweed washed ashore and it got worse throughout the day.

"It is bringing a lot of garbage. There are so many plastic bottles and branches and pieces of wood floating around in the day, and it's coming up to the shore. It looks really awful and we are watching it. We are concerned. What we did was whatever garbage was washed up, we quickly took it up," Wallace said.

He noted that while similar incidents have taken place in the past, this is the worst he has seen.

"It is the first that we are seeing this, to be honest with you. I have never seen it this bad. I have seen it worse with Sargassum seaweed, but then the sea takes it back out. But with so much garbage, this is not… normal," Wallace added.

The hotelier, who operates Boardwalk Village, is hoping there will be a change for the better on Tuesday.

The seaweed, which is normally reddish-brown, consolidates into a large sheet-like cover on the water and is transported by ocean currents towards beaches in the Caribbean. The phenomenon tends to leave behind not only a trail of garbage but a nauseating odour from decomposing seaweed and insects.

While the garbage and debris have to be removed from the beach, the seaweed is normally buried under the sand.

Anthony Lewis

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