GALVESTON, Texas -

Galveston beach goers are accustomed to the familiar sight of seaweed, but this year it's washing ashore with a vengeance.

Robert Webster, a researcher at Texas A&M University at Galveston, says it's the most seaweed he has seen since he started researching it nine years ago.

"I mean if we continue getting hammered, it could very well be the worst one in recorded times," Webster said.

The seaweed comes from the Sargasso Sea, then follows the stream into the Gulf of Mexico. Strong southerly winds drop it off on Galveston beaches. But Webster says this year a series of cold fronts kept the seaweed flowing back and forth, before reaching the island.

"And what that has done is create a very easy place for sargassum to grow and be more productive," Webster says.

Now that the warm fronts have returned, they're pushing that sargassum back onto the beaches and Galveston residents are taking notice.

"It's pretty rancid," David Strasburg said. "Exactly what you'd expect rotting seaweed to smell like."

"I mean I know it's nature's way of bringing everything in, but there is a lot of it," Brenda Matcek said.

The worst area is near 61st and Seawall Blvd, where seaweed stretches for miles and sits about four feet tall.

"Obviously it's a huge nuisance," Strasburg said.

Some Galveston Park Board employees have been called in during their time off to help with the cleanup. All Wednesday afternoon there was a bulldozer near 61st and Seawall, trying to clear away some of the seaweed to create a path.

While the amount of seaweed now might be a bit much, Webster says the beaches require at least some seaweed.

"The seaweed actually helps reduce beach erosion," Webster said.  "It holds the sand in place."

If you're planning to head to the beaches this weekend, Kelly de Schaun of the Galveston Park Board suggests choosing from Stewart Beach, East Beach, Dellanera Park and the West End Pocket Parks.