SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – The sun is just peeking over distant horizon as inexorable flow of surf rolls in along the shore of South Padre Island.
From vantage of a towering dune, the beach seems to stretch endlessly northward to the channel separating South Padre from National Sea Shore.
On this day the shore is trackless, as Cameron County beach has been closed to the public for weeks due to the pandemic.
A great blue heron stands solitary sentinel atop a dune, and shorebirds scurry along the shore undisturbed.
Cameron County Marine Extension Agent Tony Reisinger is surveying the beach, taking water samples and checking for any algal blooms.
“This is the most beautiful day I have seen in my whole life down here. There is no one on the beach, and there is hardly any trash. The hurricanes have cleaned it up pretty good.” said Reisinger.
It is some 25 miles to the jetties at Port Mansfield, and at mile 20 there is a storm wash-over that cut across the island to the bay, but it has receded and at low tide is easily forded.
The only fishermen at the jetties are feathered, and the area is remarkably free of trash.
Storm surge has washed the beach clean, and there have been no visitors to leave trash. While most fishermen are conscientious about their behavior, it unfortunately takes only a few to spoil the area.
Reisinger said, “It is important to take care of the beach and to take your trash back with you and dispose of it properly, because this beach is special.”
As the beach reopens this week it is almost like we are starting with a clean slate, and if we all do our part we can keep our treasured island looking pristine for generations to come.