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Seaweed – Trash or Treasure?

Posted by Jody on December 28, 2011

At Silver Strand State Beach in Southern California, you’ll find both sand and seaweed. Silver Strand State Beach does not rake the seaweed that has washed onto the sands of this 2 ½ mile stretch Pacific Ocean beach.  The Western Snowy Plovers, which are native to this area, depend on beached seagrass and kelp for food.  These tiny birds feed on the insects that live within the seaweed that has washed ashore. Young plovers hide in the washed-up kelp for protection.

Sign posted at Silver Strand State Beach, California

The “natural” beach at Silver Strand has three main zones: 1) The “swash” is the area washed by the tides, 2) The “wrack” line is the high tide line which is marked by rows of kelp, 3) Hilly dunes lie beyond the the high tide line.

According to an article, at Daytona Beach News-Journal online, Volusia County, Florida, which includes Daytona Beach, does not rake sargassum seaweed from its beaches, either.  The news article entitled “Seaweed piles up along parts of Volusia, Flagler coastline,” quotes Volusia County Beach Patrol Deputy Chief Scott Petersohn.“‘While it may stink for a couple of weeks, these blankets of rotting vegetation are good for the beach,’ Petersohn said. ‘We get lots of calls asking when are we going to clean it up, but we won’t and never will,’ he said, explaining the vegetation not only traps sand helping to rebuild the shoreline, but it also contains seeds of plants that sprout in the dunes.”

Wrack Line, Silver Strand State Beach, California (©Jody Diehl)

So, there we have it.  Layers of seaweed which have washed ashore on our favorite beaches are a good thing! They may pose a few inconveniences for sun worshipers and beachcombers in the short term, but these smelly, rotting marine plant masses buzzing with flies help to build, protect and preserve our beaches for the future.  That sounds like a worthy trade-off to me!  Nuisance or no, bring on the unraked beaches.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below and start a discussion, if you have any ideas on the subject of unraked beaches.  Mahalo, and happy beach going.

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2 Responses to “Seaweed – Trash or Treasure?”

  1. bigkosydar said

    wow. the idea of “raking” a beach is a new one on me. guess we’re just spoiled on the oregon coast.

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