What is June Grass? Trust me, you don't want to know. On our recent visit to Santa Rosa Beach Florida (30A) we experienced it for the first time! It was BAD. When I say bad, it didn't ruin our trip, but it was extremely heavy and felt like we were swimming in spider webs.
What is June Grass:
First of all, it really isn't grass. It is actually a type of algae. Known by the scientific name Cladophora, June Grass got its name from its appearance on Gulf Coast beaches during the month of June. It is not pleasant to beach goers, but it is a necessary part of the ecosystem. If you have never experienced, it be thankful. The green algae make its appearance yearly in the Gulf of Mexico, on the Panhandle of Florida and the beaches of Alabama and then eventually washes on the shores of the beaches and dies.
It "normally" arrives in June (hence the name), but you can find June Grass all summer long beginning in May - July and sometimes even into August. It feels like thick slimy spider webs in the water. While we were visiting Santa Rosa Beach this year the June Grass was thick. There were days where it looked like Guacamole in the water.
I spent time talking to our beach chair attendant and he told me this was the worst June Grass he had ever experienced and that it was hanging on for a long time. It had already been there for three weeks and was still there when we left (July 6). There were several storms while we were visiting and after one storm, we had a day of clear waters and then after another storm it was thick again like guacamole.
He said we would have a 50/50 chance that a storm would either help it roll out or more would roll in. So, when you ask a local when the June Grass will leave there is no way to know.
The good thing to know is June Grass is not harmful to humans. It is slimy and it is very annoying, but it won't hurt you. It will help the ecosystem so they will not remove it. It is just part of mother nature. The beach attendant did say to be cautious only if you have an open would and his suggestion was to avoid swimming "in it" as jelly fish and other ocean animals are often close by. He said go out past it or find a clear place to swim further down the beach.
We found that it would be extremely thick in some areas and then we could walk down the beach and find a clear area to swim in. When the June grass accumulates on the shore, it "dies off" in the sun resulting in an unpleasant smell. We didn't experience that right where we were, but we did smell it in areas on the beach when we were walking. It won't be cleaned up or removed as it benefits the beaches too.
June Grass is not harmful to humans, but it is super annoying. We tried to enjoy our week at the beach, but it did impact us some. It is a risk you take when you visit the Gulf Shore Beaches in June and July. Hope this helps you if you are planning a trip or experiencing it.