Is it time to reopen the beaches and oceans?

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Humans are missing beaches. No matter what country or what coastline, people love ocean waves and sunny days. What mysteries abound in salty waters? What induces the desire to stroll along in bare feet? What is that inner yearning about? The magical healing power of majesty. Nature’s playground without admission tickets. Beauty without borders. Connection to the mind, body, spirit. 


The pleasure principle is definitely at work whilst we relax and rest under an umbrella with a frosty beverage. Emotions are engulfed in a beach bubble as stress melts away. Leisure for our lungs. The beach is a balm to the body. The cold plunge into the ocean tingles the toes. And for a while, we feel satisfied. The mind is living in the moment. Hustle and bustle are put on hold.


The brain is wired for the beach. Inside the brain small electrical charges are generated as we see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. Senses sizzle via stimulation. Neurological functions such as attention, memory, language, and emotion are cooking in the cortex.


Why is the human-water relationship so profound? The story in Genesis tells us that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”


The pandemic has pushed the pause button for beach bliss. Local residents miss the surf and sand. Vacationers miss being refreshed by sun and sea.


Is it safe to reopen some beaches with some restrictions?


USA Today did a recent fact check and reported that sunlight does not kill the new coronavirus. “There is some evidence to suggest the spread of the virus may slow down as the weather gets warmer. That may lead some to incorrectly suggest sunlight as a tip to stay healthy,” the article continued.


Does ocean salt water kill COVID-19?


“Scientists across the globe are scrambling to learn the basic characteristics of the virus, and so far, neither the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor local health agencies have warned that the virus can be spread by ocean spray or coastal breezes. However, they have warned that it can be spread by droplets from sneezes and coughs, and by coming into contact with it on surfaces,” environmental reporter Rosanna Xia reported in an article in the Los Angeles Times (April 11, 2020). Xia interviewed Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. Gerba studied the coronaviruses in wastewater since the SARS outbreak and reported that 90 percent of COVID-19 is removed from human sewage due to sensitivity to disinfectants before its released into waterways.

Many citizens are demanding the reopening of the world. One report says no—another report says yes. One expert says no—another expert says yes. One side cries apocalypse disaster—one side cries conspiracy theory. The truth hovers somewhere in the middle?


Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in U.S.