GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Long lines and excited families. It’s exactly what Captain Louis Skrmetta with Ship Island Excursions likes to see.
The blue-green algae bloom that has closed some Coast beaches is also keeping some families away from the beaches of Ship Island, even though they remain open.
“Ship Island is 11 miles from the mainland," said Skrmetta. "And it’s where the Mississippi Sound meets the deep green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the salty Gulf of Mexico. So we have enough depth out there I think that we’re okay up to this point. We should be okay.”
The National Park Service is closely monitoring the islands and says, as of now, it’s safe for swimmers. It was good news to visitors like Misty Nease and her family from Oklahoma City. They were worried they’d miss out on fun in the sun on the Coast.
“We were really disappointed the first day. But the fact that we could go to Ship Island and basically hang out on the beach was very reassuring," said Nease.
Skrmetta hopes they can get that word out to every visitor. He says business during their peak season has slowed down the past few days.
“We’re open for business and we want to let our visiting public know it’s safe for swimming.”
He added they answer an average of 50 calls a day from concerned visitors.
“The beaches look great, people are having fun, they’re collecting shells, they’re hiking the beaches, they’re swimming like normal, so things are good," said Skrmetta.
As one of their busiest days, the Fourth of July, nears, Skrmetta is keeping his fingers crossed things will stay that way.
Each day that the Bonnet Carre Spillway remains open keeps him anxious. He said the fresh water is causing low salinity levels and turning the island’s well-known green waters to amber.
For now, it’s all an agonizing waiting game.
“We’re hoping they clear the spillway as soon as possible, so this water will clear up,” he said.
The National Park Service says visitors can check the park’s website for any updates should conditions at Ship Island change.