OCEAN CITY — Closing the ocean is no easy task, but Ocean City officials are hoping to at least keep swimmers away from the Ninth Street beach after the lifeguards have gone home.
Ninth Street is drawing the beach patrol’s attention because the area “has been the scene of numerous after-hours ocean rescues in recent weeks,” according to a city release.
Beach patrol operations chief Tom Mullineaux said Friday that Ninth Street is particularly treacherous due to rip currents, and that is why signs have been added asking swimmers to only make use of the beach there when lifeguards are working.
An “ocean closed” banner is even being added to drive home the point.
“We’ve had some rescues already this season,” Mullineaux said, although he didn’t have an exact count available.
He said the recent warm temperatures and good weather meant more beach activity and more swimmers.
“I think it’s going to be an active summer,” Mullineaux said, adding that the city started having extended beach patrol hours at certain beaches a week or so earlier than usual.
The city’s beaches are guarded from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
To accommodate those wishing to swim a little later, the beach patrol has added extended hours at three downtown beaches, at Eighth, Ninth and 12th streets. Those beaches are guarded until 8 p.m. on Fridays, Saturday and holidays, Mullineaux said.
Business Administrator Mike Dattlio said the city has also added a rapid response team, based at the 12th Street beach patrol headquarters, for any emergency situations that arise after normal beach patrol hours end.
“The rapid response team is not intended to suggest that people enter the ocean on any unguarded beaches. They are being stationed at 12th Street to respond to any ocean emergency along with our other public safety personnel,” Mullineaux said.
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