Posted on January 10, 2024
Bathtub Beach is located at 1585 SE MacArthur Boulevard in Stuart. Martin County Ocean Rescue is on duty at Bathtub Beach daily from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
To listen to daily pre-recorded information such as beach closure notices, tides, surf and weather forecasts and the number of lifeguard towers open for the day, call Martin County’s Beach Information hotline at (772) 320-3112.
Bathtub Beach is special, due in large part to the reef system located just offshore, which is home to more than 500 marine creatures, including endangered sea turtles.
This reef system is created by tiny tube-building Sabellariid sea worms and is not only incredibly unique, but also an extremely fragile one.
The worms cement sand grains together, creating a vast network of tube dwellings. Colonies build up over time and create a reef system that helps break waves in the summer months, creating a “bathtub effect.”
During the calmer seas of spring and summer, it is normal to see sandbars inching toward shore eventually attaching and creating beaches favorable for recreational use. These are also the conditions under which the reef does its best job at keeping the waves from eroding the beach.
While this “bathtub effect” is one of the beloved features of the protected waters along the beach, it is important to note that recreational accessibility is greatly impacted by varying seasonal conditions.
MANAGEMENT & STORM RESPONSE
While unique, ocean energy greatly impacts the fragile reef system at Bathtub Beach and can increase the frequency and severity of beach erosion.
This type of reef system is not tall or sturdy enough to break up the wave energy throughout the fall and winter seasons, or in rough conditions like Nor’easters, tropical storms and hurricanes.
Under these conditions, the water inside the reef can develop strong currents, and big waves breaking just offshore can cause extensive beach erosion.
After rough conditions, this reef is tall enough to keep the sandbars from moving back to shore, resulting in a thin beach where the effects of erosion are much more significant. The result requires regularly scheduled restoration work and hurricane recovery projects.
In addition to protecting this valuable reef, these restoration projects also provide critical protection for upland structures, infrastructure and MacArthur Boulevard.
The video above features time-lapse aerials of Bathtub Beach over the years.