Cristobal churns up area beaches

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- There were more birds than people on St. Johns County Beaches Monday because of the nor'easter-like conditions along the coast.

Melissa Roth and her daughter Noelle were visiting from Massachusetts, and they made sure to include St. Augustine Beach in their vacation, even if it was dreary outside.

"We came to sunny Florida! But it has been sunny except for today," Melissa Roth laughed.

Noelle Roth commented on the warm water at the beach.

That warm water – with its high waves – is exactly what lured surfers.

"The waves is what I'm here for," said suffer Marlin Meldonian. He drove from Gainesville to hit the waves on St. Augustine Beach

Because of high high tides, southern beaches were flooded and closed to vehicle traffic.

Lifeguard chairs were not manned Monday because of the weather, but lifeguards still patrolled the beaches by truck.

Lifeguards encouraged people to stay out of the water because of that high risk for rip currents. But surfers like Meldonian say they know how to handle rip currents.

"Don't fight it. Just remember to swim to the side in a rip current and you'll be right out of it," he said.

Meanwhile, some sea turtle nests were washed over by the strong waves.

That kept members of the Sea Turtle Patrol busy.

Diana Justice and her assistant, Bob, headed out to a sea turtle nest near Crescent Beach. Strong waves had washed over the beach during high tide Monday morning, washing away most of the stakes.

So they measured off and put more stakes in the ground around the underground nest for the endangered species.

Wash overs happen during storms, and other volunteers along the coast are re-marking sea turtle nests.

And while the eggs underneath are okay, it's critically important to put new stakes in the ground around the nests.

"The nest is fine. We're just going to re-mark it so no one steps on it or drives over it," Justice said.


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