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Entries in Beaches (8)

Thursday
Mar072013

Thousands of Sharks Shut Down Florida Beaches

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A huge swarm of sharks that shut down beaches in Florida is migrating up the East Coast in a display that has spring breakers staying out of the water.

Tens of thousands of the predators -- mostly blacktip and spinner sharks -- are now coming to shore and towards swimmers during their annual migration north.

"We saw something moving in the water and everybody was saying, 'Ahh!  Sharks!,'" one witness in Palm Beach, Fla., told ABC News.

Craig Pollock, a lifeguard supervisor in Palm Beach, said that sharks for the most part don't disturb the area beaches.

"We don't have a sandbar.  A lot of times when we have a sandbar the sharks stay off of the shore a little further," he said.

Shark sightings are not uncommon for South Florida beaches.

"Every year we expect annual shark migration to come through this area," Pollock said.

But the migration from Florida to North Carolina usually starts and ends sooner -- well before Florida's prime beach season.  But that's not the case this year.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University say they have now counted some 15,000 sharks.  Most of them were seen less than 200 yards from shore.

"It's the beauty of living in Florida," beachgoer Laura Salerno in Palm Beach said.  "It's also the danger."

As a precaution, many beaches are on high alert Thursday, with double red flags waving to keep swimmers out of the water, at least for now.

"People really need to heed these warnings because thank god it's a public beach, and they have lifeguards and they have these warnings," beachgoer Elizabeth Horowitz said.  "Sharks are not to be reckoned with."

Blacktip sharks only account for 20 percent of unprovoked attacks in Florida.  But during this migration, people there aren't taking any chances.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb132013

California Rescuers See Spike in Sick Sea Lion Pups on Beaches

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAGUNA CANYON, Calif.) -- More than 100 sick sea lion pups have washed ashore on California beaches in the past month, say rescuers.

Staff members at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center of Laguna Canyon, Calif. have taken in 38 of the starving pups so far. They say all have been brought in malnourished and in need of medical attention. More continue to come in daily.

“We have handled as many as 108 animals at one time, and are well prepared to handle many more than we have now if need be,” animal care director Michele Hunter said.

Melissa Sciacca, the center’s director of development, said the center treats 200 to 300 animals a year. In terms of the amount of sea lions being washed up on shore, rescuers usually don’t see these type of numbers until springtime, but it’s “nothing to be alarmed about.”

“Each year brings in different numbers. We never really know what to expect,” Sciacca told ABC News. “We typically don’t see these types of numbers until a little later, usually April and May, so it’s possible that our busy season is starting a little earlier this year, which may mean that it will end earlier too.”

PMMC has been in operation for 40 years and primarily rescues sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals.

“We run full diagnostic panels on all of our patients to understand as much as possible what is affecting them,” Sciacca said. “Once the animals are fully recovered and have been given a clean bill of health, we return them to the wild for a second chance at life.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Shark Sightings Close Beaches Along Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Hemera/Thinkstock(CAPE COD, Mass.) -- Some beaches in Cape Cod, Mass., could be closed for the big Labor Day weekend after fishermen reported shark sightings hundreds of feet from the shoreline.

Beaches from the Orleans-Chatham town line south along Nauset Beach to Monomoy were closed Wednesday with no date for when they will reopen.

A family enjoying the day off the coast of Chatham last week came across a great white shark feasting on a gray seal, according to ABC News affiliate WCVB-TV in Boston.

Swimmers were warned to stay at least 300 feet away from seals.

Sharks have been more visible along Cape Cod this summer with numerous sightings.  Experts blame a drastic increase in the area’s seal population on which sharks feed.

“The elbow of the cape has these large, dense concentrations of gray seals now, and these white sharks go to the area to feed,” said Greg Skomal, a senior biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.  “Because the seals are so abundant, now the white sharks are paying more attention.”

A man was attacked in July by what is believed to be a great white shark in the waters off Ballston Beach in Truro, Mass.  Police said Chris Myers was bit in both legs below the knees in possibly one single, crushing blow.

“I’ve been swimming at that beach since I was a little kid, and no one in recent memory has ever had a shark attack, let alone by a great white, which they are saying they think it was,” Myers told ABC's Good Morning America after the suspected shark attack. “Maybe people need to be a little more careful.”

Three weeks before that incident, a great white shark was spotted trailing a kayaker at Nauset Beach, about 25 miles south of Ballston Beach.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul052012

Beachgoers Beware: Shark Sightings on Both US Coasts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As you head to the beach this week along with hoards of other Americans, you have more to be cautious of than the heat. There have been shark sightings on both coasts, leading to panic in some areas.

Just like a scene out of the movie Jaws, California beach-goers spotted a 14-foot Great White shark off the coast of San Diego on Monday, prompting the immediate closure of the beach.  The La Jolla Shores beach re-opened in time for the Fourth of July holiday after there was no sign of the shark overnight.

Area lifeguards told ABC News that while shark sightings are fairly common there, they should be taken seriously.

Another shark was caught just north of La Jolla Shores the same day.  A fisherman reeled in what is believed to be a shortfin mako shark 15 miles off the coast of Marina Del Rey.

“It’s been at least a couple of years since I’ve seen anything that big,” Tony Velardez, an assistant manager at Del Rey Landing, told ABC News' Los Angeles affiliate KTLA.

The fisherman said he believed the shark was around 800 pounds -- their scales only go up to 750.

Meanwhile, the next day, all the way on the other side of the country, fishermen in Massachusetts spotted two more Great Whites off Cape Cod.

And this wasn’t the first sighting in that area -- a 12- to 15-foot shark was seen over the weekend in Chatham, the state’s first of the season.

Authorities issued an advisory telling beach-goers to stay away from seals -- one of sharks’ favorite snacks.

Back over on the West Coast, Lt. Andy Lerum reiterated the advice from Cape Cod authorities.

“Humans are not normal prey for sharks and so every time there is an attack it’s assumed it’s a mistaken identity, so it’s better not to look like a seal if you can avoid it,” Lerum told ABC News' San Diego affiliate 10News.

So enjoy the beach weather, but stay alert if you’re planning to cool off in the water this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Dangerous Rip Currents Claim Lives at Florida Beaches

David McNew/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An outbreak of rip currents at beaches in Florida has claimed several lives and endangered dozens more in recent days, prompting the National Weather Service to extend its public warnings to beachgoers.

Over this past weekend, two people drowned and more than 70 had to be rescued from rip currents in a single Florida county on the Atlantic coast, officials there told ABC News.

A 14-year-old boy went missing Sunday after getting caught in a rip current while swimming with friends at New Smyrna Beach, Fla. His body was found on shore Monday morning. Volusia County Beach Patrol Capt. Tammy Marris told ABC News that the teens were swimming at an unguarded beach, over 300 yards away from the nearest lifeguard.

The same day the boy went missing, a 66-year-old man died after getting caught in a rip current just off another beach in Volusia. He was pulled in by lifeguards but fell unconscious during the rescue process and did not recover, Marris said. Authorities have not released the identities of either victim.

The deaths follow another pair of fatal incidents that took place on Florida's opposite coast along the Gulf of Mexico the previous weekend.

There, 42-year-old Sonia Westmoreland died June 9 after she was caught in a rip current while trying to rescue her daughter and her daughter's two friends. The girls were saved by their father but Westmoreland was "blue around the mouth and non-responsive" when officers arrived, according to a police report obtained by ABC News. She died several days later.

Also on June 9, a 23-year-old Mississippi man drowned while swimming at an unguarded beach in Pensacola, Fla., according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Though the weekend is over, the threat from rip currents is not, according to the National Weather Service, which said there is a high rip current risk until 8 p.m. tonight in Volusia County. Other Atlantic beaches including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach also faced a high risk until Monday afternoon.

Rip currents are strong gushes of water that flow through a low point in a sandbar often away from beaches. The channeled force of the current can drag swimmers away from the shore at a rate of up to eight miles an hour.

"People are being pulled away from shore -- in a sense like a treadmill -- they are not able to get back in and, in most cases, due to their physical conditioning, or distance from the shore, or their swimming ability, the rip current takes a lot of out of them, and which then leads to potential fatalities," Gerry Falconer, a lieutenant with Miami Beach Ocean Rescue and president of the southeastern region of the United States Lifesaving Association, told ABC News in a 2005 20/20 special.

According to USLA statistics, which are self-reported by participating agencies, most drowning deaths blamed on rip currents occur at unguarded beaches. Last year the association counted 16 deaths due to rip currents at unguarded beaches and three at beaches where lifeguards were present.

"The most basic and important thing is to swim in front of a life guard tower, no matter what the conditions are," Marris said.

Falconer told ABC News that the frequency of drowning because of rip tides reveals a lack of awareness about the hazard.

"If people were out on the beach and the word 'shark' was used, they'd clear the water without a doubt, but to hear the word rip current, a lot of times, it has little effect…and it is just as deadly," he said.

The 2005 20/20 investigation highlighted the problem of drownings along the unguarded beaches of Florida's Panhandle.

Eight people drowned in one day in 2003 -- known as Black Sunday -- including retired CNN correspondent Larry LaMotte of Atlanta, Ga., and Ken Brindley of Conway, Ark., who were vacationing with their families. LaMotte had gone in the water to rescue his son who was caught in a rip current and got swept up himself. Brindley, seeing LaMotte in distress, went in to help but could not make it out.

LaMotte's wife Sandee told ABC News that the families had been completely unaware of the danger.

"Here we are, two families, two husbands, two fathers leaving behind two sets of children all because we didn't realize that were in danger playing here at the water's shore," said LaMotte.

How to Escape a Rip Current

Lifeguards insist that the safest option for inexperienced ocean swimmers is to swim at a beach with lifeguards. For beachgoers who find themselves caught in a rip current, they offer these potentially life-saving tips:

  • Remain calm.
  • Don't try to swim against the current.
  • Try to swimming parallel to the shoreline to get out of the current.
  • When out of the current, swim at an angle away from the current, towards the shore.
  • If you are unable to swim out of the current, float or calmly tread water.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug302011

Has Irene Polluted Shoreline Beaches?

ABC News(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has ordered people back to the beach now that Hurricane Irene has blown through the state, although his own environmental agency is still testing waters for sewage, bacteria and debris churned up by the storm.

"Get the hell back on the beach," the notoriously blustery governor tweeted Monday as Irene faded away.

The state's Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning on its website Monday that raw sewage was spilling from a lake into the ocean near Asbury Park, just three blocks south of where Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno held a press conference encouraging visitors to make one last trip to the state's beaches for Labor Day weekend.

"We're open for business," Guadgno said.

Larry Ragonese, spokesperson for the DEP, said the agency had begun testing all of the beaches up and down the coast for water quality and expected to have the results posted by the end of the week on njbeaches.org.

"Obviously you have tremendous runoff of stormwater," Ragonese said. "And everything that is on land and sea kind of meet. So we're looking for any kind of bacteria, anything unusual. We're also looking for debris, from docks or boats. You don't want a life vest popping through the water."

Ragonese said it was likely that stormwater from Irene could have overwhelmed sewer systems and caused overflows, and that the department would be monitoring the water closely.

State environmental officials are testing beaches all along the Irene's path from North Carolina to New York as Labor Day weekend approaches.

Until the test results come in, beaches and the ocean will remain open, Ragonese said.

"It's up to each town along the coast. They're the ones as far as safety that would determine that," Ragonese said.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Cleanest US Beaches Are in Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With beach season well underway and the Fourth of July holiday weekend approaching, an environmental advocacy group is out Wednesday with its annual beach report, ranking the nation's cleanest and most contaminated shores.

Judging by water cleanliness and not by beauty, the Natural Resources Defense Council gives its "Superstar Beach" rating to two beaches in Delaware and to one in each Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Futhermore, the group finds that the dirtiest beaches are in California, primarily in Los Angeles County, with three making the NRDC's list of beaches with persistent contamination problems.

The NRDC's David Beckman says the number of beach closures and advisories on dirty beaches over the past year is the second-highest since the council has been tracking them, standing at over 24,000.

"The two big problems, when it comes to America's beaches, are pollution runoff in urban areas and from agriculture," says Beckman. "It contains bacteria and viruses that can make you sick if you come into contact with them.  And you can also get the same bacteria and viruses from sewage spills."

Michelle Mehta with the NRDC says swimmers exposed to the contamination can suffer from "gastrointestinal problems, ear, nose and throat problems, and skin rashes."

Here are the four beaches ranked as "Superstar Beaches" by the NRDC:

-- Delaware: Rehoboth Beach-Rehoboth Avenue Beach
-- Delaware: Dewey Beach
-- Minnesota: Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach
-- New Hampshire: Hampton Beach State Park

And here are the 10 beaches that have had persistent contamination problems:

-- California: Avalon Beach
-- California: Cabrillo Beach Station
-- California: Doheny State Beach
-- Florida: Keaton Beach
-- Illinois: North Point Marina North Beach
-- New Jersey: Beachwood Beach West
-- Ohio: Villa Angela State Park
-- Texas: Ropes Park
-- Wisconsin: Eichelman Beach
-- Wisconsin: South Shore Beach

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Ranked as Top US Beach

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEWTON, Mass.) -- If you’re planning a beach vacation this summer, TripAdvisor.com would like you to know the number-one sand and surf location in the U.S. is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The location was named the top beach in America and the seventh best world beach destination based on ratings by travelers in TripAdvisor reviews.  The beach at Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos was ranked the top world beach destination.

According to a recent TripAdvisor survey of some 2,100 U.S. adults, 68 percent are planning a beach vacation in 2011, with 54 percent planning a trip to a U.S. beach destination.

Here are TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Beaches Award-winning U.S. Beach Destinations:

1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
2. Cape May, New Jersey
3. Panama City Beach, Florida
4. Miami Beach, Florida
5. Sanibel Island, Florida
6. Clearwater, Florida
7. Honolulu, Hawaii
8. Captiva Island, Florida
9. Poipu, Hawaii
10. Siesta Key, Florida

Here are TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Beaches Award-winning World Beach Destinations:

1. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
2. Boracay, Philippines
3. Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
4. Negril, Jamaica
5. Tulum, Mexico
6. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
7. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
8. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
9. Cape May, New Jersey
10. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio