As large amounts of seaweed collect along Texas's shores, one Texas city is finding a creative way to deal with the problem.
"It's really bad, it's really bad," said Galveston visitor Paul Brown.
Brown and his family were visiting the Texas coast from Memphis and noticed the abundance of seaweed along the beach. It is a common, smelly sight along many of Texas' shores.
"We've been battling seaweed for centuries," said Kelly De Schaun, Executive Director of Galveston Island's Park Board of Trustees.
Charged with keeping Galveston's beaches tourist friendly, De Schaun finds herself in a tough position.
"From an environmental standpoint, probably the best action we could take is no action," said De Schaun.
Doing nothing, however, would devastate Galveston Island's livelihood: Tourism. Currently, Galveston cleans the busy parts of its beaches with tractors when large amounts of seaweed come ashore.
"The vast majority of all the sargassum makes landings here, just because of the nature of the currents," said Robert Webster, a researcher at Texas A&M Galveston.
Webster has spent his career researching sargassum, better known as seaweed. Its scientific name is derived from its origin. The seaweed grows in the Sargasso Sea, in the middle of the Atlantic, and is carried by currents into the Caribbean and eventually to the Texas Coast.
Webster has become an expert at tracking the seaweed using satellites.
"You see these streaks? That's sargassum," explained Webster, while inspecting a satellite picture of the Gulf of Mexico.
That means Webster can predict when seaweed is going to arrive and it is how Webster, along with his colleagues at Texas A&M Galveston, and De Schaun came with a solution to the seaweed problem.
"What we're trying to do with this proposal is come up with a way where we can kind of create a win-win for the homeowners, the tourists and also the environmentalists," said Webster.
The idea calls for continued collection of the seaweed, but instead the seaweed will now be bailed, like hay. It will then be placed at the base of a sand dune, which should help to promote natural growth in the dune. In turn, those dunes will help combat Galveston's other problem: Beach erosion.
"To take a product that comes naturally from the ocean that we have to deal with anyway, and to incorporate that into fortifying our ecosystem through the creation of dunes is indeed a win-win for everyone," said De Schaun.
The island hopes to put the plan into action soon, once approval is granted.