Luckily, You Shouldn't Have to Worry About That Sargassum on Galveston Island

Categories: Environment

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Photo by Karen Henderson
Sargassum on the beach in Galveston recently.
Keeping seaweed in check on Galveston Island has been no easy task. Prepping for the holiday weekend has meant bulldozing tons of the stuff away from the fun sandy part. And things are looking good for the weekend ahead.

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, Sargassum (pronounced like "orgasm") seaweed bombarded the island more than usual this year, due to the cold weather we had in the early spring.

"It's still several days away from being complete," Robert Webster of Texas A&M at Galveston said. He's noticed more of the smelly veggie stuff some 80 miles from here, and said that folks tasked with cleaning it up should expect large seaweed landings in the coming months. He called the mass that's already hit the island "pretty unusual," but it's slowing down.

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Photo Courtesy TAMUG.edu
NASA-funded satellite images help track Sargassum's movements.
The Galveston Park Board has already been forced to put in extra effort on the seawall to get things in order for the weekend, according to the Chronicle's report.

The unusually large mass of seaweed accumulation forced the Park Board to temporarily abandon its policy of leaving seaweed where it washes ashore to trap sand and help fight wave erosion that shrinks beaches.

All available Park Board employees have been pressed into service, some recalled from vacation, to keep the seaweed from interfering with tourism, the island's lifeblood, [Galveston Park Board Executive Director Kelly] de Schaun said. Employees and heavy equipment are at work every morning before dawn to make sure that arriving tourists are not blocked from the surf by a wall of seaweed.

"Our water around Galveston is more a green tint, because there's a lot more nutrients in the water. The longer it stays in that green water, the more it grows," Webster told Hair Balls. He said his team in Galveston is working on a new project that would use Sargassum as a core for beach dunes.


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