There’s Always Something in the Beach Water

The nearest beach to where I live is in Galveston, Texas, and there is always something in the water besides salt and seafood. In the news this week, there was a big story about fecal matter in the water. The last few times I checked and decided to avoid the beach, the Gulf of Mexico contained flesh-eating bacteria. That’s tragic, of course, because sometimes people have serious or deadly reactions. But swimming with the fecal matter just about makes me want to swear off the beach forever. 

What else Besides Poop and Flesh-Eaters?

My family and I have shared a lot of unforgettable memories at various beaches. The sun, sand, and surf are strong magnets. But I have to concentrate very hard on fun these days. I know too much about what is lurking in the murky waters. Even the blue waters we enjoyed in Florida contained danger. People all around us suddenly started running out of the water to dry sand because at least one huge stingray was swimming all around where waders like to play. Stingrays are very dangerous near warm, coastal waters. They hide there in the sand, from predators. So if you accidentally step on one, they jab you with a poisonous barb. It makes for a very painful, oozing wound. The following are more terrible things that are commonly found in beach water:

  • Jellyfish exist in large populations all year around on every U.S. coast. They can be difficult to see because they’re all gelatinous. The stinging they cause is no joke. It can cause severe burning and raised welts.
  • Portuguese Man-of-War are somewhat similar to jellyfish but actually much worse. Their tentacles can be as long as 165 feet, and they are dangerous for swimmers and divers alike. Sometimes swimmers are unaware that they’re being stung by a man-of-war. It can be fatal when one of them stings someone on the neck and chest.
  • Phytoplankton are miniscule plantlike organisms that float by the billions in water and ooze out poisonous toxins in most coastal waters. They can cause an itchy or stinging sensation. If you ever see a “red tide,” it’s likely phytoplankton in high density.
  • Tiger sharks are also a danger, though shark bites are extremely rare, compared to the other hazards in the water.

Wade with Caution

With spring just around the corner, people are using flocking to the beach by now. It’s been an unusually cool winter, though. At least down south, we haven’t been as tempted as normal to take a dip in the Gulf in early March. But now it’s not just the lack of heat keeping many of us away. It’s also the fecal matter.



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