HOUSTON—The seaweed problem in Galveston is so bad this year that before she left her home in Rockwall near Dallas for her Galveston vacation, Joan Haddock made sure she packed her beach chair and her pitchfork.
Beachgoers like Haddock are finding their own unique ways to fight through the historic mounds of sargassum seaweed that line most Galveston beaches right now. A natural occurrence between May and July each year, the 2014 invasion has been more pronounced than most.
Tuesday afternoon at Pirates’ Beach on the far west end of Galveston, Haddock was using her pitchfork to clear a small path from the beach to the water so that her grandkids could reach the Gulf of Mexico without having to climb barefoot over the sometimes three-feet-tall seaweed mounds. Other beachgoers have propped up 2x6 boards as makeshift bridges across the seaweed.
“We heard about the seaweed but I had no idea it was quite like this. It amazed me,” said Haddock. “I told my husband, I said, ‘I will never be able to rake through that.’ But with a little diligence today I did,” she said of her pitch fork effort.
“Nature just does what it wants. Hurricanes come. Seaweed comes. So what are you gonna do?” she said admitting she was taking the natural occurrence in stride.
The Galveston Park Board of Trustees said its crews are clearing the beaches it is responsible for as quickly as they can, while also utilizing specially trained monitors to walk in front of bulldozers and other heavy equipment to watch out for endangered sea turtles that might have ridden to shore with the seaweed.
Individual neighborhoods outside of the Galveston Park Board’s jurisdiction can hire private, and properly permitted, contractors for beach maintenance and seaweed removal.