Beach Manners: Part Two..
OR: OH NO, THERE’S ANOTHER HOLE!
As mentioned earlier, we needed desperately to update our beach manners post, as so many things have changed with our coast. For one thing, NC has been subject to an unusual amount of shark bites, as you all know. So we are going to address this, along with leaving structures on beach, those deadly holes that don’t get filled in, and a few other details, including one close to my own personal heart…donating leftover food from your vacation.
FOOD AND TOILETRY DONATIONS:
Let’s start with all that food! If, like my family, you overdo it on the groceries, they can be a concern when you are checking out. And many of us just don’t want to deal with it..let’s face it, lots of us inlanders just don’t have that much access to fresh seafood, so we tend to go overboard with the hushpuppy mixes, the Old Bay, coleslaw fixings..you get the drift! And we know it will just eventually get thrown out if we pack it all back up again, and then sits in the pantry for months!
So donate it!
Last year, while vacationing at Surf City, I happened to notice in my info packet from the rental company (Topsail Island by Lewis Realty) that we could drop off unwanted grocery, extra toilet paper, etc, right as we left the island on Saturday morning, and it could not have been easier! The dropoff was located on our right as we approached the bridge, so it was an easy swing in, swing out, with plenty of folks on hand to grab those bags.
Today, I spoke with Surf or Sound Realty of Avon, and they also offer a similar program, although slightly different..with them, you actually drop the unused items at their office when you drop your keys, and someone picks the items up on Mondays..they offer this service at their Salvo office, too.
These are not the only rental companies that do this..it is a growing resource for our coastal areas, and although I don’t know who came up with the idea initially, it is one of the best I have seen..what better way to help the communities in our home away from home than by donating to the food banks? And they could not have made this easier! So please double check your info packet, and if you don’t see info there, give them a buzz and ask..in some areas, this might still be novel and direct info may not have made it into the packets yet….this is one trend it would be wonderful to see everyone participating in, wouldn’t it?
OH THOSE HOLES!
This issue with the holes has been an ongoing one, and sometimes I wonder if maybe people think we are making a mountain out of a molehill (or a crater out of a pothole). So let’s address this.
The reason for all the emphasis on filling in those wonderful big holes is actually a safety reason..no one is trying to destroy any fun, and everyone is welcome to dig as deep and wide and with as much imagination as they want. The request is that you fill in the holes before vacating the beach. Why? You ask? Won’t the tide fill them in, you think?
Well, there are many folks that walk at night, not to mention that we do have visually impaired folks among us. So there are those folks to think of. Nothing like stumbling into a three foot well and twisting an ankle or breaking a bone, is there? And it’s not just the humans..we recently shared a disturbing photo from one of the turtle rescues that showed a deceased turtle who had gotten caught in one of those holes, and not discovered until it was too late. Then there are the wild horses…none of us want to be responsible for possibly causing pain to these lovely creatures, do we? They have NO idea to watch for holes, just like the turtles. Last but not least, we not only have all terrain vehicles on some of our beaches, but we also have rescue, and many an axle has been busted by hitting one of those holes! So, please, do not leave it to the tide..the tide only turns roughly every six hours, and that leaves plenty of time for an unsuspecting animal, human, or vehicle to substain damage, okay?
I would like to add that NC has had their own cases of folks who have tunneled too far, and have had the tunnels collapse and have suffocated. The sand is not stable, so please keep an eye out.
WHAT ABOUT CANOPY STRUCTURES?
Ahh.. this one is a sore subject for many. What happens is that some take down their canopy for the night, but neglect to remove the poles, so we have similar hazards that you have with the holes, or the risk of a rough surf scattering all those little metal bars and arches all around. Or, you might well lose your structure to a rough tide anyway, so why not just take it down and avoid any of the risk..only takes a few minutes, and can save you and others plenty of big bucks!
I SAW A SHARK!
Yep, and you will probably see more, as they are not uncommon for our coast. What is uncommon is the amount of bites we’ve had this year. The sharks are ALWAYS there, folks, so let’s cover the basics again. I am not going to address all the possible reasons for the shark bites (although I do tend to agree personally with the fact that our water temperature rose early this year and brought in lots of bait fish), as there are as many opinions almost as there are sharks!
So let’s focus on what you, the individual, can do:
AVOID SHINY JEWELRY OR ANYTHING THAT CAN RESEMBLE A BAIT FISH
For those unfamiliar with fishing in our coastal area, if you look while walking out on the pier, you will notice that many fisherfolk are using shiny, fish-shaped lures..why? Because in the water, they resemble bait fish, and the same can be said for a lot of jewelry, so keep that in mind.
TRY TO SWIM IN A GROUP IF POSSIBLE
PLEASE AVOID THE PIERS, and this is a biggie! There have always been boundaries on surfing or swimming around the piers for a very good reason: there are bait fish out on lines, most fish are cleaned on the pier and remains are discarded into the water, etc: Plus, who wants to run the hazard of being caught up in some fisherman’s hook, anyway? I can tell you from personal experience that a trouble hook in your palm ain’t no fun, so please respect the boundaries, okay?
SWIMMERS, AVOID THE FISHERFOLKS WITH LINES OUT FROM SHORE
FISHERFOLK, AVOID THE AREAS WHERE GROUPS ARE SWIMMING
We all have a right to enjoy the beaches in the way we do. Respect for others can go a long, long way…If you head down to the beach for a dip, and see that a fisherperson is already in your favorite spot, then it is up to you to pick a different spot..This is similar to standing in line..you wouldn’t want someone to cut in front of you in line,would you? So apply that here.
The same goes for the fisherfolk: if you head down to wet a line from shore, and see that that great break in the water is being used by a family getting in a swim, well….guess what? They were there, first.
So respect will demolish some of the problems..first in line, first served, basically.
A SHARK IS COMING AT ME!
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating..if a shark attacks or approaches too close, SMACK IT! Smack it as hard as you can on the nose, and if it continues, aim for the eyes and gills and scratch, rip, whatever…sharks respect power so use your might!
Now this one seems to be up for debate..I have read many articles regarding human blood vs whatever, and still don’t feel very clear on this. So for safety’s sake, if you are sporting an open wound, or otherwise leaving a blood trail, might want to avoid the ocean until you can leave no scent, okay?
PLEASE TRY TO AVOID NIGHT, DAWN OR DUSK SWIMMING..This is typically a sharks’ feeding time, so this can also work in your favor. And avoid murky or otherwise churned water. Also avoid wearing colors of high contrast..National Geographic mentions that sharks are attracted to bright oranges and yellows, for example.
THE BAIT FISH ARE SCATTERING!
Most likely, the cause of this will be a bluefish in the area, or other predator..the little fish will let you know if they are excited, so keep an eye on them, and if they begin to act up, pay attention. It could also mean the proximity of a shark, so better safe than sorry.
This turned out a bit longer than I intended, and we really haven’t covered everything..for those who may have missed earlier post (beach manners one!), please see Beach Manners, republished with this issue.
Special thanks to the following realty companies for taking time to speak with me!
Topsail Island By Lewis Realty
Surf or Sound Realty