Scientific Study Looks At Beach Changes, Helps Public Too

Oceanographers from the Naval Research Lab at Stennis Space Center made the final adjustments Thursday on two digital cameras that will monitor the beach front around the clock.

"Beaches are extremely dynamic, and we don't have a good understanding why they change the way they do," oceanographer Todd Holland said. "The idea is to make long-term measurements at beaches around the world to try to understand how some of these behaviors are formed."

The cameras are setup at "Da Beach House," a business near Washington Street in Bay St. Louis. The cameras send a video signal to a computer inside the business. The images are stored for Navy researchers to study.

Similar Navy research projects are going on at 12 other beaches around the world including Hawaii and The Netherlands.

"The Navy has a keen interest in trying to understand the wave action so they can predict how they can make landings at different beaches around the world," Holland said.

The public can also benefit from the technology.

"If you want to know if it is a nice day to go to the beach, you can certainly go to the web site and look at the picture from the pervious hour and decide that's the perfect conditions to go to the beach," Navy researcher Nathanial Plant said.

"Surfers like to know whether there are big enough waves. Wind surfers may want to know if there's enough wind."

Owner of "Da Beach House," Colleen Read, said the project is a perfect match for their business.

"The foundation of Da Beach House is about creating awareness of environmental and education aspects, and the Navy coming in and monitoring the beaches really helps stimulate the interest in the community," Read said.

"There are a number of educational programs that we can pull from this research."

Research she says will benefit the Navy as well as beach goers. You can view the Bay St. Louis beach by logging on to www.NRLSSC.NAVY.MIL.COM. The camera site should be up and running by March.