Rip current zones identified at most beaches in Visakhapatnam

The main attraction for any person visiting the city is the beach. Unfortunately, most of the beaches in the city and the district have been identified as “unsafe” for swimming, and the only “safe” beach — Lawson’s Bay — is littered with filth and is being avoided by tourists as it has been literally turned into an “open defecation” ground by fishermen living nearby.

A number of persons drown at sea every year, but that doesn’t seem to deter others from giving in to the ‘fatal attraction’. Those who do not know swimming too are attracted by the surf and the waves and get into knee deep or waist-deep water, unmindful of the impending danger.

Warning boards

Rip current zones have been identified along the Visakhapatnam coast. Water movement in oceans is termed as ‘current’. Rip is the current that flows perpendicular to the shoreline. ‘Long shore currents’ develop and flow parallel to the shoreline.

These are not hazardous to swimming due to their low velocities. Two long shore currents flowing towards a region in mutually opposite directions will meet to generate a flow perpendicular to the shore called ‘rip current’. These rip currents flush away sand, silt, and even human beings towards the open sea due to the high energy and velocity.

With the Ganesh immersion festival on and Dasara round the corner, revelry will be at its peak on the beaches. The tourist season, which starts immediately after Dasara, attracts tourists from many states to the city. The city police have set up warning boards on the beaches, but how seriously will tourists take them remains to be seen.

“Rip current zones have been identified along the Visakhapatnam coast at the beaches south of Bheemunipatnam, Erramatti Dibbalu, INS Kalinga, Rushikonda, Sagar Nagar, Tenneti Park, Old Light House area, INS Kursura Museum, Opposite Police Mess, R.K. Beach, Naval Coast Battery, and Yarada,” says NSN Raju, a retired Senior Technical Officer and consultant at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

He suggests prohibiting of swimming at all these beaches between June and September and appointment of more life guards during October and November as the beaches would be in the transition state of building from more gradient that occurs during the south west monsoon.

“Those under the influence of alcohol run a higher risk of drowning and hence should be prevented from swimming,” Mr. Raju says.

Revellers beware, don’t allow rip currents to rip your life apart.

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