There is something unusual in the air this summer along the Gulf Coast — and it isn’t done yet.

If you’ve not made your way to the beaches as of yet this summer, you might be surprised to see Mother Nature is sharing with us a lesson on how oceans regenerate dunes.

Yes, the largest shipment in decades of sargassum (better known as seaweed) is putting on what can only be described as a one-man (or one-woman) show along our shorelines.

Earlier this week, The Daily News took a look at this event — one locals are referring to as the largest in memory. And according to research, they are right.

Scientist and students right here in Galveston County (Texas A&M University at Galveston) are highly interested in the how and why of the events leading to this year’s harvest.

The students are the lifeblood of the Sargassum Early Advisory System, a NASA-funded project the university developed to study and report the movements of mats of seaweed from the Atlantic Ocean through the Caribbean Sea, into the Gulf of Mexico, and, ultimately, onto the Texas Coast.

According to doctoral candidate Robert Webster, it would be helpful to put this into proper perspective.

Seaweed isn’t a new issue, Webster said. It’s not an invasive species that just appeared. The cycle has repeated itself annually for more than 4 million years, he said.

“We’re intruding on their beaches and not vice versa,” Webster said.

Furthermore, satellite images show there is more to come. Much more.

But take heart, Galveston County. Recently, a 4-mile-long, 2-mile-wide mat — like something from a made-for-television movie — was identified by satellite an images. Fortunately for us, this monster is predicted to make landfall in Louisiana.

At least we’ve got that going for us, right?

Leonard Woolsey is publisher of The Daily News.


(8) comments

GW Cornelius

Still a mess and a health hazard. Time to move it.

Mary Branum

The health hazard is caused by man removing something that is natural. This island would have wonderful dunes if it weren't for the cry babies wanting "clean" beaches.
Padre Island wouldn't exist if the sargassum had been removed.

Jim Forsythe

Island Runner please expand on health hazards. I would like to know so I can protect my family and myself.
We are missing the chance of a life time to build up the dunes and the beach , but if its a health hazard then we need to protect all that go to the beach and not let anyone on the beach!
The Health department needs to know about these hazards, also EPA and the Coast Guard and other groups!
If this is a true health hazard then all beaches along the gulf coast need to be shut down.

George Croix

Jim, do you have a cinder block laying around the house somewhere?
Ask it the questions.
You'll get a faster answer...and the cinder block won't hide what it is...[wink]

I still say the City of Galveston should dry the stuff, put out some cases of ziplock bags by it, and post signs that say "Free Weed"...
It'll all be gone by morning...

Kathy Maddox

Health hazard? Quit whining about it. Like sand?

Charles Brothers

It is a health hazard. It gives me the heebee jeebees. On the other hand it cushions your fall from the seawall.

Jim Forsythe

What is the health hazard? Just like my post below I need to know so I can protect myself and family. You may be confused about what a hazard is!

horace norris

roll the tourist in it and fry them.

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