Summer is in full swing here in the South, ready for thousands of visitors to hit the Gulf beaches… but wait! This year you may not want to step into the water. Unfortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is challenging us with some health scares.
The flesh-eating bacteria that have contaminated the waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the last few years have now been found in seafood. Swimmers with open wounds have been discouraged from entering the water for some time now. But now news reports advise people to avoid eating raw seafood as well—particularly raw oysters—as this has been linked to people contracting the bacteria. The number of deaths this year has reached into the hundreds.
Also, right in my own backyard, Panama City Beach, Florida, there’s been an outbreak of sea lice. I’d never heard about these monsters before—and all I could imagine was something like scabies…yuck! But they are not. Sea lice are tiny jellyfish larvae that sting your skin…the rash comes later. The larvae are so microscopic that they are impossible to see with the naked eye. They tend to migrate through the mesh of bathing suits, where they become trapped and begin to sting. However, most swimmers don’t realize they’ve been stung until the next day, when they experience fever, chills, nausea, and bumpy or blistered skin.
I sit here on my porch, just 25 feet from the water. The powdery beaches are crowded with tourists—down here we call them renters. I think to myself, as long as there is water and sun in the Gulf, nothing will keep people from Canada and the Southeastern United States from heading down here. As I look around, I already sense the swarm of people arriving for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend…and that’s a good thing.
It seems there’s always something going on with the oceans of the world—from shark sightings to contamination to the now-current sea lice and Vibrio outbreak. But people have always flocked to the ocean waters for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Put the recent scares out of your mind and remember all the wonderful things to see at the Gulf of Mexico. Come to enjoy the long stretches of white, powdery sand between your toes…the amazing orange and purple sunsets over the gulf waters…the unique Sundog Bookstore in Seaside, rated a full 5 stars on TripAdvisor—the famous Margaritaville in Pier Park in Panama City Beach. Take long, leisurely bike rides along the beach. Instead of raw seafood, take advantage of the various mouthwatering options for dinner in the coastal towns, and cool down in the refreshing pools that dot the coastline’s many hotels and communities. It’s a great opportunity to try something new during your getaway to the Gulf of Mexico.
Come to the long, white beaches of Florida, to celebrate the 4th of July.
If you see me sitting on my porch, stop by…