What is an Upwelling?


What’s that smell in Ormond Beach?

Wait…what’s that smell at Daytona Beach?

Why does Flagler Beach stink?

I’ll give you a hint… It has nothing to do with the Pier! New Smyrna Beach stinks too.

Why is the ocean dirty in Daytona?

Are Daytona beaches closed?

What happened to my beach??

I asked these questions too! I found all the answers and will explain below.

We left the oceanside and travelled to Indiana for a couple weeks (making a brief pit stop in Tennessee). When we came back to the oceanside, it stunk!

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We missed the ocean while we were gone, so we turned off i95 to highway 100 and drove the normally pleasant A1A from Flagler to our Ormond Beach home.  My excited husband rolled the windows down in anticipation of smelling the salty air. Within just a few moments, the car was full of a fowl smelling stank that almost gagged us!

On our first full day back, we walked to the stinking beach to check it out. The smell was strong and unpleasant. We happened upon a police officer and a grouping of lifeguards huddled at the main station. My husband asked, “What’s THAT smell?”

The lifeguards’ responses were all the same, “It’s the upwelling”.  They continued, “It happens every year and can last days or the rest of the summer. There’s no way to know. Everything on the bottom of the ocean comes to the top and everything on the top rolls to the bottom.” The beaches are OPEN!

We thanked them (as if we understood) and left. When we got home, I consulted NOAA.

Here’s what’s going on:

An upwelling occurs when wind blows along, parallel, or adjacent to a coastline. Warm top surface waters are pushed offshore and deep ocean water is drawn from the bottom to replace the water being blown away. This causes the churning movement of the deep, colder water. In my stick figure primary artistic skills, I’ve drawn a model to visually help.

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So my next question was, “Why does a Northernly wind push water away instead of pushing it north?”

Upwelling at Beach - ChrissyAdventures
Upwelling at Beach – ChrissyAdventures

According to NOAA, “Because the Earth rotates on its axis, circulating air is deflected toward the right in the Northern Hemisphere and toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This deflection is called the Coriolis effect.”

Great… The Coriolis Effect… That sounds fancy 😉

So because Florida is in the Nothern Hemisphere, the air bends on a right angle pushing water away from the shore, dredging up the stinky ocean bottom on the shallow shoreline causing the microorganisms to come to the top.

Upwelling - ChrissyAdventures
Upwelling – ChrissyAdventures

So basically right now, at this particular time of the year, the water is refreshingly cold but smells like a lake.

The color is not necessarily pretty but again, it would remind you of swimming in a lake.

And fortunately for all the lucky swimmers out there, the mass migration of hundreds of jellyfish have left the Daytona Beach & Ormond Beach area.

So the water maybe murky but it will not hurt you. I do highly recommend however not wearing your favorite bathing suit to the beach right now! I saw a woman go into the ocean in a very nice white suit. She came out in a light greenish/brown suit.   I highly recommend buying a cheap throw away suit for this time of the year. Check out this sale–> Biggest Sell-Off in July, up to 62% off.

I also highly recommend bathing when you get out of the water. This should be common sense for most folks but some people like to get out and then go party without showering.  😲  During this time of year that’s not a good idea! All those microorganisms that normally lie on the ocean floor or very deep below are on the upper level where you are swimming. You don’t want to keep these things on your skin any longer than you have to.

The water might stink, but it’s not going to hurt you unless you try to drink it. (I high recommend against drinking the ocean. That’s the stuff horror films are made of!)

Just about 3 weeks ago the water was really warm to swim in. After the upwelling, the water is very cold and refreshing! I saw many people on floaties enjoying themselves and I swam for a few hours with no problems.

So if you were asking all these questions of the internet just like I was, I hope you found all the answers you needed. If you have any other questions for me please leave them in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive updates on many travel-related issues, destinations and fun stuff to do!

Chrissy

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