Almost every single summer, the beach in Panama City Beach is accompanied by a combination of green slimy stuff and chunks of prickly patches with tiny air bubbles. Collectively, this is commonly referred to as June Grass, even though the two separate materials are completely different. “June Grass” certainly isn’t a scientific term and I never could seem to come up with when the term usage began. Some will say it is specific to the green algae, others the sargassum, and still others will use the term to refer to both. Although they both seem to come to shore around the same time, they are different. And one of them actually makes quite a journey to make it here.
Sargassum is a patchy material that consists of a leafy bunch interspersed with tiny air sacs. The air sacs resemble small grapes and keep it afloat. The material serves as a mobile home, of sorts, for all sorts of marine life. The actual name is of Portuguese decent. Sargassum actually comes from the Sargasso sea, which is found in the north Atlantic. It grows in very large, thick bunches and is broken apart by current and waves. The broken apart pieces then multiply and grow on their own as they travel wherever the current takes them. Sargassum can be found all along the east and gulf coast, and is a member of the brown algae family.
The very small, slimy green stuff we find floating in our waters is much different then sargassum in consistency. This material makes the water seem soupy and the matter can infiltrate the smallest crack or crevice on our person. It’s been joked about, used for mock costumes, and often found heavily caked on the shoreline in some areas. All I can find out about the stuff is that it grows somewhere offshore and is prevalent in warmer waters. During periods of rain, it can clear up a bit.
The presence of either material tends to be a constant topic of complaint on the beach during the summer months. I’ve heard of people claiming their whole vacation was ruined from it. Contrary, I’ve also heard some say they’ve experienced it almost every year they’ve vacationed here and have come to expect it.
In the past, countless blamed it on the oil spill – of course, it was as natural that year as it has been in every other year. Some have claimed it’s worse now than it’s ever been, yet many others can recall its prevalence in quantity fluctuates from year to year and has for as long as they can remember.
I for one, can remember in 2002 when my cousin, Eric Koertge, came to town and the stuff was super heavy and very unenjoyable. It was in our short pockets, leg hair, what little chest hair I have and caked on my skin – gross! But I can remember years when I hardly noticed it!
What are your thoughts on this green and sometimes slimy stuff?