Conference Will Highlight Pesky Seaweed On Texas Coast
If you’re a seaweed fan – especially those large floating mats called sargassum – you’re in luck. A conference featuring all things sargassum – called the 2015 Gulf Coast Sargassum Symposium – will be held April 2-3 in the Galveston Island Convention Center and will feature several Texas A&M University at Galveston experts focusing on the seaweed problem that frequently hits the Texas coast.
The need for such a meeting is timely, say the experts, because the Texas coast has been plagued in recent years with huge amounts of sargassum that eventually wash up on shore. The symposium will be hosted by Texas A&M-Galveston, the NASA Stennis Space Center and the Galveston Island Park Board of Trustees.
Topics to be discussed will include how sargassum affects Galveston and Texas’ multi-billion dollar tourist industry, the challenges facing the area of how to move large amounts of sargassum from beach areas, the biological impacts of sargassum and recent studies of sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico.
In addition, NASA and Texas A&M-Galveston will unveil the Sargassum Early Advisory System Application (SEASA) that will be able to track large amounts of the floating seaweed to help fishermen, boaters, tourists and the general public in the planning of water activities.
“This new app will be immensely helpful to a wide variety of people, from the scientific community to sport fishermen and to the general public,” says Tom Linton, assistant instructional professor of marine resource management at Texas A&M-Galveston and one of the conference’s organizers.
“Floating sargassum is a natural process, and some years tend to be worse than others. Just last summer, the Galveston area had several incidents of sargassum washing up on the beaches, and it can collect in amounts that can be four or five feet high, it produces a terrible odor and it can be harmful to some types of marine life. This new app will let us know in advance when such large amounts of sargassum are going to approach the coast so we can be better prepared.”
Linton and colleague Robert Webster developed a way to bale the sargassum into bundles like hay where it can then be used to stop beach erosion that has been a big problem in the Galveston area for decades. They also have developed a way to make the sargassum edible for livestock.
The Texas General Land Office and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees awarded Linton and Webster a $150,000 grant last year to study and remove sargassum.
For more information about the symposium, go to http://seas-forecast.com/.