by Michael J. Shapiro | July 17, 2019
Hurricane Barry walloped the Mississippi Gulf Coast with rain this past weekend, but it did not stir up enough saltwater to wash away the algae blight from the mainland beaches. Water-contact warnings remain in effect for nearly all of the region's mainland beaches, meaning swimming and water-sports opportunities throughout the destination are not allowed as the harmful bacteria sticks around. Sand-based activities on the beaches pose no safety risks, however.

"We are working around the clock to make sure that everyone is aware of the situation," noted Coastal Mississippi spokesperson Anna Roy, "as safety is our number-one priority. But we also need people to know that Coastal Mississippi has so much more to offer visitors and is absolutely and most definitely still open for business."

The algae bloom, which first appeared in late June, affects the Gulf Coast waters but not every water-based activity in the region; freshwater and offshore water activities remain, including kayaking, paddleboarding, excursions to barrier islands and fishing experiences.

"We know that visitors to the region are seeking an array of activities such as headlining entertainment, gaming, attractions and other natural resources, too, and they can create their own unique adventure with every visit to the destination," said Coastal Mississippi CEO Milton Segarra. "We welcome everyone to experience the splendors of the Secret Coast."

What's more, the algae blight has not put the local fishing business out of commission. "Contrary to several alarmist national headlines," noted Roy, "there is still a vast array of Gulf seafood to be eaten across the region."
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources continues to test water and fish samples, and advises fisherman against catching any seafood in waters where the algae is present. However, "thus far the water samples tested by MDMR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have not shown toxin levels high enough to warrant concern for consumption of local seafood," said MDMR executive director Joe Spraggins. "Recreational and commercial fishing off-shore in Mississippi waters remains unaffected by the algal bloom and is safe for consumption. The MDMR is committed to frequent sampling to ensure the safety for fresh locally caught seafood."

The latest updates on Mississippi Gulf Coast beach and water conditions can be found here.