Beaches are an amazing place to explore, both from an ecological and a photography perspective. They are ever changing, sands literally shifting from one area to another; they are a canvas for weather patterns that pass briefly and then disappear.

To really know a beach, you must visit often, in all conditions and seasons. Though I am new to Florida, I am just starting to learn the beach on the Gulf Coast of Okaloosa Island and Destin.

beach, gulf coast

So far I have visited multiple times a week, not yet in the rain but in the sun, in the wind, and under billowing storm clouds. I love how the sea oats seem to shine in the midday light, the aquamarine color the water takes under just the right conditions, the way Great Blue Herons stand like sentries along the shore, waiting for prey. It doesn’t matter how many times I walk the beach – I am never bored.

beach, florida, gulf coast

It is no surprise then, that I am becoming protective about the beach itself. Seeing footsteps on the off-limits dunes grinds my gears, because I know how susceptible they are to erosion. I ask the lifeguards to make sure people fill in the holes they dig on the beach, because sea turtles can become trapped (they can only move backwards, not forwards). I am not perfect, so I try to moderate my own behavior: am I bothering the birds when I get close to photograph them? Did I accidentally litter a candy wrapper that escaped my bag? Am I being an obnoxious do-gooder to the other beach goers?

As I continue to explore the beach, all I can do is try my best. I’m quickly falling in love with my beach, and I want others to enjoy it as much as I do!

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