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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Beach erosion now creeping in on 100% of Yucatán beach homes

Desperate property owners build makeshift sand barriers

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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.
State workers are now using heavy machinery to do away with hundreds of illegal barriers on Yucatán’s beaches. Photo: Courtesy

Erosion on Yucatán’s coastline is now affecting every structure on the beach.

Several experts are calling for a moratorium on the construction of new beachfront structures until a new set of guidelines can be put in place.

State authorities are reporting that this week alone, they have documented 272 artificial barriers built by homeowners in an attempt to keep rising waters at bay. 

But experts say that these barriers, which extend along the coast, do more harm than good and are also illegal. 

“We need a new set of standards to address the problem, as honestly, efforts so far have not only been unsuccessful but have actually made the problem worse,” said Pedro Castro Borges of the CInsvestav research institute. 

The problem of beach erosion has become particularly severe in beach communities such as Telchac, where a great many beach homes are now showing signs of weakening structural integrity.

Earlier: Rare baby Lora turtles seen in Yucatán for the first time

Erosion also threatens several endangered species, including sea turtles who nest in Yucatán’s white sandy beaches.

Aerial photograph taken by state authorities while surveying illegal construction along Yucatán’s coast. Photo: Courtesy

The most obvious of these signs include exposed foundations, large cracks, and fissures, as well as the displacement of large volumes of sand by the ocean. 

“People obviously want to be able to look out their front door and see the ocean right there. Nobody really thinks this will cause them problems down the line until it does,” said Castro Borges. 

But the problem is multi-dimensional and caused by a series of separate but interconnected causes including climate change, irresponsible construction practices, and “band-aid” solutions like barriers.

The problem is also worsened by the destruction of coastal ecosystems such as wetlands and mangroves that combat the effects of erosion. These ecosystems are also important in that they protect the coastline from tropical storm surges and hurricanes.

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