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Love Galveston, Love Seaweed

Love Galveston, Love Seaweed

Next time you head to the beach in Galveston you might notice things have gone green.  That’s thanks to seaweed, washed ashore last year and being used to protect and save the beach this year.

“Seaweed is an integral part of the larger marine system,” says Galveston Park Board Executive Director Kelly de Schaun.  “It’s a valuable component both when it’s in the ocean and it serves as a habitat for marine life, and when it’s on the beach and helps regenerate the beachfront.”

Captain Robert Webster is a research assistant and doctoral student at Texas A & M at Galveston.  He says sargassum, the technical word for seaweed, makes it possible to create dunes, using the seaweed as a base.  “We encourage plant growth in that establishment of dunes that Galveston Island is lacking.”

The Galveston Park Board, responsible for the care of beaches and the promotion of the beaches – not always complimentary concepts – has pushed the seaweed to the back of beach using a piece of equipment called the Barber Surf Rake, which moves the seaweed without taking the sand along.  And they’ve planted 14,000 dune grass seedlings at two places on Seawall beaches to provide additional vegetation to the habitat.

All of this serves a very critical function.  A recent Texas A& M study reveals that 64% of the Texas coastline is eroding at an average rate of six feet per year.  Some areas lose more.  The dunes created by seaweed are effective at fighting that erosion, caused by natural elements including high tides and storm surges.

The Park Board is spreading awareness of the value of seaweed and its contribution to the long-term safety of the island.  They have initiated a seaweed art contest and are holding special events, such as seaweed swag give-away days at Stewart Beach and east Beach.

You can find more information on the campaign at http://www.galvestonparkboard.org/

 

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