Stony Brook, NY, July 1, 2010 - New York Sea Grant is collaborating with Dr. Steve Leatherman of Eastern Long Island Coastal Conservation Alliance, Ltd. (ELICCA) to distribute "Beach Hazards: What is Your Greatest Fear?," a four page color brochure inserted in the July 8, 2010 issues of the Southampton Press and East Hampton Independent newspapers.
NYSG's Coastal Processes and Facilities Specialist Jay Tanski has known and worked with Leatherman for over 25 years on various projects related to coastal hazards and processes on Long Island. "It seemed like the perfect fit for Sea Grant to provide some input, especially at this time of year, says Tanski.
As discussed in the publication, a survey of hundreds of beachgoers was conducted in Southampton, New York, Miami Beach, Florida, and San Diego, California, which showed that most people have little knowledge of the ocean and its possible perils.
Nearly all beachgoers interviewed have heard of undertow, but few understand it. Year-round residents of Southampton were more knowledgeable of beach rips (e.g., rip currents) than visitors and tourists, but their understanding of rips was still lacking in many cases.
This summer, NOAA and Sea Grant continue their own education campaign, urging beachgoers to learn about rip currents before getting into the water. Rip currents are a potentially deadly threat -- accounting for more than 80 percent of lifeguard beach rescues.
Lifeguards and surfers can usually detect beach rips, but most beachgoers have difficulty spotting them. "Spotting rips can be difficult, so remember, 'When in doubt, don't go out' and swim near a lifeguard,'" says Tanski.
Beach rips on East Coast beaches are often disguised by the waves, especially when a strong onshore wind is kicking up the surf, which causes these currents.
For more on rip currents and how to avoid them, see the "Related Info" box to the right for links to NOAA and Sea Grant's campaign as well as the "Beach Hazards" publication produced by ELICCA's Leatherman, NYSG's Tanski and other partners.