Archive for July 5th, 2013

Nature: The Value of Sargassum

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Kemp's Ridley resting on Sargassum; Image © Joseph Scarola

Kemp’s Ridley resting on Sargassum; Image © Joseph Scarola

This is Passport to Texas

The arrival of brown colored algae, called sargassum, to Texas beaches is nearly as predictable as the return of the swallows to Capistrano, but not as welcome.

07 – It shows up on the beach, late spring through early summer, and it can be a nuisance to your average partygoer.

Paul Hammerschmidt, with Coastal Fisheries, says tons of it washes up on the Texas coast from the North Atlantic, hindering beachgoer access to the water. Yet, sargassum is far from being a mere nuisance. It provides habitat for other living things.

13 – There are many animals that only live in the sargassum weed in the Sargasso Sea. It also is a nursery area for a whole lot of game fish like Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Sailfish, that type of thing.

On shore, Hammerschmidt says beachcombers discover shells and sea beans in the slimy tangle, as well as live animals. Cities and counties that obtain permits may move the seaweed to help rebuild sand dunes. If you get a hankering to bring home some Sargassum, it does make a good garden fertilizer – with one caveat.

07 – One thing you really do have to do is rinse the saltwater off of it. You don’t want that saltwater in your garden; that’s just not healthy for your garden.

The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series, and funds the work of saltwater fisheries in Texas.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.