PADRE ISLAND, Texas — For the first time in several years Sargassum weed has started showing up on area beaches and the first and natural reaction is to get this stuff out of here. It stinks and we don’t like looking at it. But experience has taught us that’s not such a good idea.
For one thing the seaweed helps re-nourish the beach and keep it wide at a time when crews are already struggling to widen it in the wake of the recent high tides. And second, if you take a close look at the clumps of seaweed you will find that it is teeming with sea life.
Katheryn Jager and her husband nature photographer Gary McAlea often use a seine to show kids why they should leave seaweed alone. They say you should think of it as a floating nursery.
"For us we like to take them out and out them in a little container of water and watch them. Then put them back into the ocean and let them go free," says Jager.
It’s that last part that is the most important. Check out the critters but then put them back where you found them.
So if you’re coming to the beach this weekend bring a tool to move the seaweed aside, and if it smells a little funny that’s okay. Just think of it a nature’s floating critter house.