Galveston's seaweed problem shows signs of slowing down

By Khambrel Marshall - Meteorologist, 'Newsmakers' Host

GALVESTON, Texas - The sargassum seaweed influx that has been hammering Galveston beaches for weeks seems to be losing its stranglehold, just in time for Father's Day weekend.

The Galveston beach-cleaning department has been working nearly around the clock to keep the seaweed off the beaches as much as possible. That means a full-time staff of 15 plus extra manpower and equipment.

"They have pushed it to the back here and they think it's going to taper off here through Tuesday." said Ivette Wilhelm, the public relations coordinator for the Galveston Park Board. "We should see a nice break from the seaweed this weekend."

That's music to the ears of tourists and business owners alike who will look forward to less seaweed and more beach for a change. Ninfa Bradberry drove down from Rosenberg and said she knew about the full-time cleaning effort going on but was still surprised at what she saw.

"I didn't think it was going to be as high as it is but they've done a really good job in keeping it cleaned up, so it's nice." she said.

Mostly nice, but in addition to the unsightly view, those who come within a few hundred feet and are downwind, can't help but notice a very prominent smell. Galveston resident Richard Kennedy says there is a big difference from several weeks ago when the beach was clogged by seaweed several feet deep. Then and now, he says the sea life is what creates the smell.

"You can take it when it's fresh and shake it in a bucket and you'll find seahorses and all kinds of critters in that stuff," he said.

His wife Tina said it's what makes living on the island unique.

"They push all this stuff toward the seawall and plant stuff on it," she said. "He helps when it comes time for it to help defend against hurricanes."

It may help when the storms come, but for now for most visitors its a mix of the mostly good with some of the bad.

Christie Ohara drove from Katy with her four competitive cheerleaders to spend the day at the beach and says considering how bad it could have been, it will do.

"The stuff piled against the wall is quite ugly but it's the beach. It'll do,"she said. "The girls don't care and the kids are fine."

Ivette Wilhelm with the Galveston Parks Board said most people who come to the beach know it's all about nature.

"The smell may not be so nice in some places but there are plenty of areas where it's just fine,"she said. Our crews have worked hard to keep the beaches clear and I think most of our visitors will appreciate that and have a good time."

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