This week the mercury eked its way up to three digits territory in all but four of the continental states. All along the Rhode Island beaches (Jersey is the shore, the Ocean State is the Beach) swimmers were grossed out by nasty critters affectionately known as Sea Roaches. Body surfers splashed about in masses of quarter to half-inch long bugs that are blessed with tiny but strong claws. When the surf tears the crustacean isopods from seaweed they follow ‘any port in a storm” advice and hold on to hairy chests, swimsuits and the lot.
I admire the critters’ tenacity for life and ability to clear the beach. They are tiny vacuum cleaners that exist on algae and other crud that balance the ecosystem. Sea Roaches are newcomers to coastal life believed to be part of the new world made possible by global warming. They cope with rising sea temperatures by making lots of love and millions of more critters. This summer swimmers are enjoying the warmest waves in recent memory, calm seas, and fair winds. It’s also as hot as Dante’s Sixth Circle of Hell – the one that burns up heretics who don’t believe in Heaven or that Satan fans the searing fires of their eternal domain.
Everyone knows that high doses of Mercury are lethal but beach goers believe that they can dodge the bullet. It’s not the power of sunscreen – they seek the refreshing balm of cool salt water. Yesterday the heat index in New York City, which is an island surrounded by an ocean current, was 107. It was a killer day with much suffering in brick high rises. Today, the National Weather Service issued an Urgent Heat Warning that advises New Yorkers to reschedule strenuous outside activities to a shady or air conditioned place. People should wear light clothing, rest frequently, and hydrate.
Damn the sea roaches – they are also called Sea Pills! Perhaps the coastal waters are teaming with the ultimate cure for heat waves. Besides, for many of us, enduring the obnoxious effects of little pricks is just another day in Paradise. Grab a cooler and man the beach umbrellas – get thee to a beach!
With respect for all who cannot find respite from the heat in pools, ponds, and seas consider one course of action. Shed all but the most modest of clothing, sit in front of a fan and read Jaws. You’ll be glad you’re not treading water among a million little pricks wondering whether something more lethal lies within these waters.