What is June Grass?

by June 15, 2012 • 20 comments

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

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.

Green Algae

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?

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1 Janet August 3, 2011 at 7:52 pm

It is nasty

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2 Lee Howe August 4, 2011 at 10:44 am

It didn’t used to be like this. There are more people now, and more people means more pesticides on lawns and more concrete and roads that run dirty water down to the bayous and out to the gulf. This means more “nutrients” for the green algae, and they “bloom”. These days less and less water goes into the ground and filters before getting to the gulf.
If you were here on the beach 25 years ago, you saw sargassum (clean and easy to put up with) and just a bit of algae (slimy and stinky) in a short-lived phenomenon, and you know that it’s been getting worse and lasting longer year after year.
There once were oysters in West Bay. It’s us, folks. We’re the ones changing things.

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3 Debbie July 30, 2012 at 10:11 am

About 25 years ago, we had a summer of such bad seaweed, that we were considering using bulldozers to clean it up. (Maybe we did. I forget the details. It was 25 years ago, after all.)

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4 Cathy August 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

lol lol Noooooo, I can’t say me or any of my family have ever created a “Slime Monster” with this crap while on vacation but…. we’ve looked like some kind of monster coming out of the ocean with it all over us! Hard to get off… yes, my grandsons laughed at it this past June! :)
It’s never really bothered me, it drifts up & down the coastline & clears out spots very nicely. This algae is just a part of nature, it has to be there for a reason in-which all things are.
The Sargassum I rather think is pretty, it does float and resembles tiny grapes.
I guess you really have to love the beach & all it’s elements to understand these things.
It has never ruined my vacation & I really doubt anyone’s, some people have a knack about them to ruin their own good times. “Pitty”
The only thing I really can say I do not like is the smell of seaweed washed up on the shore after a big storm way out…… if it lays in the hot sun it begins to smell like ruined cabbage! YUCK!!! hahhaaaaaa
It’s just life……… we must deal with it.
Thanks,
Cathy/Tennessee

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5 Allison/West End resident August 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm

My friends and I that live here call it pulpy orange juice because it is just like swimming in extra pulp Florida OJ! Delicious!!! You just get used to it…and I doubt it would be the only thing that would contribute to to ruining someone’s vacation. Lame!

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6 Bob August 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Bull manure! I do not ever remember it being this bad for the whole summer and it is getting worse every year. The plumbing and sewer problems caused by this stuff will only get worse unless a solution to kill it is found. Could it be a byproduct of “Beach Renourishment”? Bob

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7 Debbie July 30, 2012 at 10:14 am

Plumbing and sewer problems? You can’t hose off in the yard? What is the world coming to?

There’s nothing new about the seaweed. It’s always been here. Some summers are worse than others.

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8 nick August 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

Once they build the new site I’m sure the old site will be closed. Then pcb will be left with another eyesore.These public officials only care about tax dollars!

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9 meagsy May 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

I just found out im allergic to it

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10 LynnD May 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I went to Panama City Beach in the mid 80′s and there was no such thing as “June grass”. In addition, the beaches were not sloped but completely flat with ankle deep water for several yards out before the water gradually began to get deeper. So much more beautiful than today. I wonder why we suddenly have “plagues” of “June grass” which I first noticed back in 2006 but never in the 35 years of beach trips prior to that? Also, just in the past 7 or 8 years have all the beaches, starting with Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores, Destin, Ft. Walton and Panama City beach began to “slope” downward instead of being flat the way they should be.

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11 Rob Smith June 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I believe the sloping is just due to natural erosion by the waves. Maybe storms have increased it some.

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12 Rob Smith June 12, 2012 at 4:17 pm

The sargassum this year has been huge. There are gigantic deposits of the stuff all over the beach, huge clumps of the stuff. At least it is out here on the west end. Is it like that everywhere?

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13 Jason Koertge June 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

I was out on the west end yesterday and it’s been mostly cleared up.

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14 Rob Smith June 16, 2012 at 11:44 am

Thanks! Was going to head down later on today.

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15 viola woolcott June 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

A lot of Chinese herbalists prescribe powdered Sargassum. It is dissolved in warm water and drunk as a tea and said to remove excess phlegm.

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16 captgeobob June 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

It makes for great compost. It is great for your garden and its FREE. Try it and watch how your garden grows. Oh, rinse it off first and let it soak in fresh water for two days.

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17 CATHY HENSON June 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I’ve not seen much of this stuff this week although what I have picked up to really have a look see at it is really very pretty. It’s either dark reddish in color or a light green both with small hard berries. Now it does have a pungent sea/fish smell that I imagine can be BAD if it lays on the beach in the heat & sun but…… all in all it is a natural wonder I think. Just think of all the things at the bottom of the sea it has seen & been around! It’s just a blessed part of nature for us to enjoy. :)
Cathy/Tn. in PCB Fla.

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18 Sharon Ernst June 22, 2012 at 3:22 pm

My thoughts on it are…..I hope it’s a light year for it. It is slimy and grose. That’s all folks.

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19 Larry Carmadelle Jr June 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Jason,they need to try and pick most of that “June Grass”,up with some type of nets,before it gets too thick close to the beach.Maybe pass by in small boats and scoop most of it up.It would make it a lot better to swim with.

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20 Kevin Trolinger June 26, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Its usually only an issue in late June and July but it doesn’t keep me away and by the time I get back for Labor Day it’s all but gone!

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