What does a purple flag mean at the beach in Florida?
The purple flag flying over Panama City Beach beaches means that dangerous marine wildlife has been spotted in the water. This flag indicates that you should swim at your own risk. A purple flag flies in conjunction with a the green, yellow or red flags that indicate surf conditions.
While sharks and jellyfish immediately pop into our heads when we think about dangerous marine life, those are not the only kinds of dangerous marine life that can trigger a purple flag over the beaches of PCB.
So, what is considered dangerous marine life for a purple flag?
Some types of dangerous marine life for a purple flag are:
- Sharks - A number of sharks are known to visit the inland areas of the Gulf, including Bull Sharks and Hammerhead sharks
- A high concentration of Jellyfish of many different types.
- Portuguese man o' war - These are technically not a jellyfish, and they have been known to wash up on the beaches in the panhandle.
- A high concentration of Stingrays
- Harmful algae bloom (HAB) - See the NOAA harmful algal bloom forecast for Northwest Florida here. MOTE Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has an FAQ page about Florida Red Tide that is helpful as well.
- A concentration of Sea Lice - Sea lice are not actually lice...they are jellyfish larvae in the ocean that get trapped in your bathing suit and sting you creating a rash.
Does a purple flag mean sharks?
Not necessarily...sharks are just one of several types of "dangerous marine life". The purple flag can indicate the presence of any type of dangerous marine life including but not limited to high concentrations of jellyfish, sea lice, stingrays, harmful algae bloom, portuguese man o' war, and sharks.