City of South Padre Island beach maintenance crews are working extra hours to continue to provide visitors one of the best and cleanest beaches in Texas. The City is increasing efforts and seeking additional equipment to try to stay ahead of the seasonal influx of seaweed washing ashore all along the Texas coast that happens as ocean currents change in the spring. Staff is on the beach since early morning, throughout the day and extra hours during the weekend to mechanically rake the beach as weather permits. Tractors cannot be on the beach to rake when the tide is so high that it severely reduces the beach path.
Still, the sometimes-pesky seaweed, or sargassum, that washes ashore plays a vital role in our area’s natural ecosystem by providing rich nutrients to numerous life forms, including birds, small crustaceans and microscopic organisms. The City’s beach raking guidelines that aim to strike a balance between maintaining an aesthetically pleasing beach and the City’s primary goal of protecting and preserving life and property also provide for the use of seaweed to help strengthen the dune system.
The dunes function as a physical barrier that reduce the impact of storms and wind surges, or the abnormal rise of water over and above the normal tide line. According to the National Hurricane Center, “storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.” The Galveston Bay area saw wind surges of 15-20 feet above normal tide levels during Hurricane Ike in 2008; Ike caused an estimated total of $24.9 billion in damages throughout the Caribbean, Texas and Louisiana.
With summer vacations and the hurricane season fast approaching, the City will continue to balance its goal of providing visitors a beautiful beach experience with its goal of maintaining a safe environment that protects life and property for residents and visitors alike.