Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dangers at the Beach!



The beach is a refuge, a getaway, a dream, an escape, but it can also be more than that. As much as man loves the sea, he also cannot escape the fact that it kills without conscience. Let's look at what can go wrong at the beach....

Sea Monsters



Perhaps the most chilling thing you might find at the beach, besides people wearing dental floss for swimsuits, is the sight of a monster washed ashore.


This creature (above) was found in Russia on the beach. It has skin with hair or fur. It was not an alligator, fish or crocodile. It was taken away by Russian special services. What it was? Still not reported.



In 1954 in England a "monster" was found that came to be called the Canvey Island Monster. "The 1953 specimen was described as being 76cm (2.4ft) long with thick reddish brown skin, bulging eyes and gills. It was also described as having hind legs with five-toed horseshoe-shaped feet with concave arches – which appeared to be suited for bipedal locomotion – but no forelimbs. Its remains were cremated after a cursory inspection by zoologists who said that it posed no danger to the public. The 1954 specimen was described as being similar to the first but much larger, being 120cm (3.9 ft) long and weighing approximately 11.3kg (25lb). It was sufficiently fresh for its eyes, nostrils and teeth to be studied though no official explanation was given at the time as to what it was or what happened to the carcass."



In 2008, something washed ashore in near Montauk, NY that came to be known as the "Montauk Monster."  Many believed it was the result of animal experiments on Plum Island nearby where the government did animal testing. Ultimately, a naturalist pointed out that it very much did appear to be a racoon without  its fur and decomposing.



The Brooklyn Bridge Monster of 2012 (above) was thought to be related to the Montauk Monster.  It washed up under the Brooklyn Bridge. This one was explained by one "expert" as a dog that washed ashore, its hair having slipped of its body and being bloated. Doesn't explain the claw or beak.

What I don't understand is why no one ever picks up these things and take them to a vet or someone?



This 30-foot creature washed up on the shores in New Zealand (above). This was thought to probably be an Orca whale.





Riptide

That's not the only thing to fear at the beach. What about riptides (aka "undertow")? 80% of rescues on the sea are due to riptides. 

SOURCE: It is important for people to learn how to spot rips because it can literally be a matter of life and death; even expert swimmers can be nearly helpless in these powerful currents. Rips are sometimes referred to as the “drowning machine” because of their almost mechanical ability to tire swimmers, causing fatigue and ultimately death. The first thing I do upon arriving at a beach is to scan the surf from the highest point possible. Also, I consult with lifeguards on surf conditions and especially regarding the presence and location of any rip currents. Rips do not always appear in the same spot every time, but can change position. More than one rip may be present at the same beach on the same day. I always look for a seaward flow of debris or entrained sediment. In rip currents these materials generally move at right angles to the shoreline. Where the rip crosses the surf zone, the line of breakers may be interrupted or transformed into small, choppy waves. Also, the water contained in the rip often looks murky or foamy. Rip currents moving through relatively calm, regular surf of big Pacific swells, such as along the Southern California coast, are easily detected. By contrast, these deadly currents are much harder to spot when the sea is rough and conditions are windy.   

What To Do—if caught in a rip current:
»Don’t panic, which wastes your energy and keeps you from thinking clearly.
»Don’t attempt to swim against the current directly back to shore.
»Swim parallel to shore until you are out of the current as the offshore flow is restricted to the narrow rip neck.
»Float calmly out with the rip if you cannot break out by swimming perpendicular to the current. When it subsides, just beyond the surf zone, swim diagonally back to shore.


Jellyfish




Jellyfish stings are a fact of life in the summertime, but it doesn't make it any better. When I was a kid, we used to go to the dock where our boat was moored and use a stick to pull them out of the water and onto the sand. Once the waters looked clear, we'd jump in, only to be stung by the ones that were down low and not seen. 

Forget the rumors of vinegar and urine fixing a sting, hot water or cold water is best. If you have a cooler with you, pour some of the ice water onto the stings. If tentacles remain, carefully pull them off but a towel to remove them, as they can sting the person who grabs them. 

Australia and Indonesia have box jellyfish which are so lethal they can send a body into shock and the person to drown. 



Brain-eating Amoeba

This horrifying organism is a freshwater issue, so if you're going to the beach at the lake, start squirming and bring the nose plugs! These organisms like bacteria found in warm water and soil. People swimming in these lakes who accidentally inhale water, can shoot the amoeba into the brain where it begins to eat brain cells. Luckily, it is extremely rare. 


Urethra-swimming fish

Candiru is also known as the "vampire fish." It is a parasitic freshwater fish from the catfish family. It is only found in the Amazonian countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. This tiny critter has gotten a reputation of stories about swimming up people's urethras. There was a case in 1997 that was officially reported, but even then people had trouble believing it was legitimate. 


Sand Cave-In

Every summer, at least a few people, usually children, die on beaches. Digging holes in the sand can lead to collapse. Sadly, this is preventable by diligent parents who don't allow children to dig big holes and climb inside. Even when the family of a child see the collapse, they often cannot rescue the child from the sand fast enough to recover them.


Sharks

It goes without saying that sharks trump everything in summertime beach goers' minds, but the joy of being in the ocean makes us quickly forget that threat. And, when you consider the overall rarity of attacks, we are more likely to be struck by lightning on the beach than attacked by a shark. 

On this subject, there was a post on the 9th on GHT that covers shark info. 

Have fun at the beach this summer, but remember it is also a force of nature to be respected. Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water... there's Jaws....







Water Spouts


Sure, they are beautiful, those waterspouts over the ocean, but beware! These are basically tornadoes and they can and do come up on the beach! This video should dramatize the gravity of this situation - 




Horror-themed sculptures






Scary sights






Nothing is going to keep us from the beaches this summer, that's for sure. There are many things about it that draw us to it, from the cool water, the sounds of the sea, the sky that is not limited by buildings and trees so one can see a sunrise or sunset, and all the easygoing culture and outdoor cafes that make it our favorite summer place. 

Here's hoping y'all have a glorious summer ahead! 

**Tomorrow's post is "Why Are Lighthouses Haunted?"**



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