While you stay with us on the beach, as you sink your toes in or shake out your towel, you’ll start to develop a close, personal relationship with Anna Maria’s sand. And that’s OK—it’s exceptional stuff. Far from the coarse grit you might see on coastlines in other parts of the world, southwest Florida’s shores are blessed with a fine, flour-like powder, so soft and smooth it squeaks when you walk on it.
The story of our sand began hundreds of miles away and thousands of years ago in the Appalachian Mountains. Up there, as more delicate rocks disintegrated in the wind and the rain, the mountains revealed hardier veins of quartz. Rather than being mashed into abrasive chunks or simply becoming dust, this quartz was slowly eroded by the elements and tumbled smooth like stones in a stream.
Some of that polishing process happened as these grains were being carried south by rivers, and then by advantageous tides in the Gulf of Mexico, which eventually deposited the quartz here, along with a mix of other eroded rocks, shells and coral.
Of course, our precious shores are vulnerable to storms and other natural conditions that sometimes reshape our coast and threaten to carry away our sand. Shoreline maintenance (and sometimes renourishment) helps to protect our beaches.
Two of our primary weapons in the war against beach erosion are plants and piers:
The sea oats and grasses are as valuable to us as gold. These plants thrive in the sand and salty air, and their roots are an effective and all-natural tool to help keep sand in its place. As you come and go from the beach, please use established pathways and bridges that protect the plants and the dunes that build up around them.
The pier-like structures you see here jutting out into the water are called “groins.” They help to disrupt the currents that might otherwise pull away at the beach. The groins also help to trap sand as it moves along our shore, sometimes even building the beach up further.
And of course, mind your plastic picnic detritus and pick up after yourselves. You can enjoy countless hours of sunbathing and sandcastle-building on Anna Maria’s beaches today because generations of people have respected their beauty and helped to preserve it.
Other than that, there’s no pressure at all. Just sink your toes in and relax. However long your journey was to get here, the sand has come from afar as well. This is where we were all meant to be.