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Water bugs cause a stir at area beaches during heat wave

July 26, 2013

Last week, area beaches from Newport to Westerly were visited by a crustacean isopods - bugs that typically infest marine waters - but do not bite and are not considered a human pest. The photo above was taken at Scarborough State Beach. (Photo By James Bessette)

Those seeking relief from the heat last week with a cool ocean swim, may have found themselves sharing the refreshing waters with some bug-like critters.

The bugs were spotted at beaches from Middletown to Westerly, including at the south end of Scarborough State Beach.
The critters are crustacean isopods, according to Gail Mastrati, spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Management.
She said the typically infest marine waters, but do not bite and are not considered a human pest.
The bugs have been described as having a hard shell with a reddish-brown coloring. Some say they look like baby shrimp and are about half an inch long.
“We believe it’s because of the lack of wind,” Mastrati said.
She said DEM hasn’t received any complaints but has only heard reports of the critters at Scarborough State Beach, but haven’t heard reports of the bugs at any other state beaches.
Scott Hassell, beach manager of Narragansett Town Beach, said he and the lifeguards haven’t had any complaints at the town beach.
Terry Murphy, director of South Kingstown Parks and Recreation, said there also haven’t been any complaints about the bugs at South Kingstown Town Beach.
“We know of no health risks to humans,” Dara Chadwick, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said of the bugs. “They don’t bite. They have little legs that may crawl on your or they may brush past you in the water, the legs may pinch you but they don’t bite.”
Chadwick said the Department of Health is advising beach goers to rinse off before leaving the beach.
On Tuesday, Mastrati said DEM didn’t receive any complaints about the bugs from beach managers or patrons at the state beaches over the weekend or so far this week.
“It looks like those critters are gone,” she said.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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