Boca Raton Beach Club by Allison Ragle

boca raton beach club

One of my favorite places in Boca Raton, where I live is the Boca Beach Club. While I have never had the privilege of frequenting the establishment as a hotel guest or member (I don't have that kind of money lying around). I worked as a beach server there for sometime and benefited greatly from the people who had the money to be ordering $15 cocktails from me while napping on a day bed that was costing them over $100 for the day.

Despite walking miles in the sand from my tiki hut to guests and back with trays full of sugary drinks covered head to toe in sweat and sand, I enjoyed that job. There was one week though that ended it all for me though. I could handle almost always having sunscreen or sand in my eye and the weird tan I was getting from my uniform, but the red tide... it was too much for me.

Back in October something entered the waters of Boca beaches much worse than any shark or sinister sea monster. Red Tide took over the water. Red Tide is a tiny little organism known as Gymnodinium Breve in the scientific world and is a common alga. These algae emit a toxic gas that combines with sea spray to become a noxious gas causing respiratory issues in any living animal on the coastlines. These blooms of algae make fish toxic to eat, cause mass die outs of marine life, and oxidation of the water. Swimming in the ocean when red tide is present is off limits and public beaches close at once.

For a beachfront hotel property, not being able to use the beach equals the loss of thousands of dollars. They were relentless though. They kept the pools open and the beach workers still had to come in case someone walked down to grab a drink. As soon as I stepped out of my car into the parking lot at the club, I started coughing. My coworker coughed so much he popped blood vessels in his eyes! My managers were all wearing surgical masks, but the hotel industry never sleeps and a day of money lost is like the loss of a close friend. So they told us to act nonchalant and keep on with business as normal. It's hard when you can't breathe, to smile and say everything is fine. Really hard.

Alas, that is the beach life though. The property lost an uncountable amount of money those weeks. While I don't know the exact money lost by the hotel, I do know that a research plan submitted to congress in 2001 estimated the total economic loss between 1987 and 1982 to be roughly $49 million annually! Being beach side, companies expose themselves to natural disasters like hurricanes and sometimes rogue sharks. The saddest thing about the risk of red tide is that it's man made. Red tide is a result of nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution is from runoff carrying nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer, manure, and atmospheric deposition across water sheds and right into our streams, lakes, and oceans. This basically gives the algae an infinite food source swelling their populations to toxic blooms visible from space.

Red Tide is a scary risk that is looming over my beach club and all the Florida coastline. The industries here suffer from farmers carelessness, and some are even physically ill and gasping for air because of it.

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