Texas A&M-Galveston Researchers Tackling Stinky Seaweed Problem    

Linton and seaweedGALVESTON – Researchers at Texas A&M University at Galveston have a use for the hundreds of tons of stinky seaweed that have washed up on the Louisiana - Texas beaches.  They have devised a way to bale the stuff like common hay and have even found a way to make it edible.

 Tom Linton and Robert Webster, researchers who have been studying the seaweed problem for years, have adapted a farm compactor to bale the seaweed, technically called sargassum, that floats atop the Gulf of Mexico waters in huge clumps that can be miles long and packed into blocks similar to hay.

 Once baled, the sargassum can be used to mix with sand and then the beach grass take root to form an ideal method to stop beach erosion that has plagued the area for decades, the researchers say.

 In addition, they have yet another twist to the seaweed problem: a way has been found to take out iodine that is found in much of the sargassum and thereby making it edible and opening up some additional opportunities for it use.

 Linton, who has been working on seaweed projects for more than 10 years,  says that sargassum “comes in waves and hits the beaches, every few years.  It’s a natural process that happens, but this year has been different.

 “We’ve had at least nine strong cold fronts this spring and early summer that kept the sargassum out into the Gulf, but in recent months the currents have washed all of it up on the beaches. We now think we have developed ways to bale it up like hay, remove the iodine and use it safely.  In addition, it makes an ideal way cover some beach areas with vegetation and makes a very nice ground cover.”

State officials are so excited about the idea that the Texas General Land Office and the Galveston Park Board of Trustees have awarded the researchers a $150,000 grant to fund the project.

Bob Wright
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