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16 swimmers attacked, possibly by sting rays, in Progreso

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Police and lifeguards are warning people to stay out of the water in Progreso, but not everyone is listening. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

As of Wednesday, 16 people have reported being attacked by some kind of sea creature while swimming in Progreso over the past few days.

No serious injuries were indicated.

The specifics of the attacks are vague, but most are thought to have involved interactions with string rays in Progreso’s shallow waters. 

“The sting rays are concentrating in Progreso because they were attempting to escape the red tide in other nearby regions like Telchac,” said marine biologist Jesús Manuel Cuevas Medina.

Though sting rays aren’t generally dangerous they are known to attack humans when in distress or when stepped on accidentally. 

Progreso’s city hall has set up several red flags along the beach in an attempt to keep visitors from entering the ocean. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Police have been patrolling the beach asking people to get out of the water, but these warnings often go ignored.

Video by Yucatán Magazine on the prohibition to enter the ocean in Progreso. 

“We are asking people to stay out of the water for their own safety, but many people don’t listen. We have not been authorized to use force to get people out, but it may come to that eventually,” said Officer M. Pech of Progreso’s municipal police force.

Earlier: Does Yucatán’s red tide mean seafood isn’t safe to eat?

Though the red tide is not present in Progreso, nearby communities such as Chicxulub, Telchac, and San Crisanto are currently under siege by the noxious algae.

Red tides occur when higher than normal ocean temperatures lead to the rapid growth and decomposition of algae.

This process is extremely harmful to sea life, as it robs the ocean of large amounts of oxygen, resulting in the beaching of a large number of fish. 

As an additional precaution, authorities have suspended the sale of seafood from affected areas.

In turn, this cutback in the supply of seafood has led to a sharp increase in prices.

Some restaurants, like Oliva Enoteca on Mérida’s Calle 47 have suspended their “catch of the day” menu items.

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