June grass hits and sticks to Okaloosa Island beaches
OKALOOSA ISLAND — While most of the Emerald Coast is clear of June grass, Okaloosa Island has some pockets of the slimy green algae.
Beach Safety Division Chief Rich Huffnagle said that it would probably take a storm to move the seasonal bloom out to sea, which is not something the area needs or wants.
"It's moderate now, and it could get heavy depending on whether we get hot weather in July," he said. "If there's not a lot of surf moving the grass around, it could get pretty thick."
He described a stretch of the island as the "middle of a teacup," where things like June grass can kind of catch and stay.
But the grass, which can be seen in clumps along the white sand, is so far the only mark on an otherwise strong season opening.
Huffnagle said he is seeing an uptick in the number of tourists, with some avoiding the Bay County area, which was hit hard by Hurricane Michael last October.
"It's been a relatively good year," Huffnagle said. "The guards do a really good job getting to people and educating them."
Eric Brown, who works at the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier, said folks are pulling in tarpon, Spanish mackerel and bonita, and some June grass.
"You get a free salad every time you throw a line," he joked.