When was "going to the beach" invented?


Until the 18th century, the seashore was not a place most people would go to relax. In ancient times, it was where you might run into a variety of monsters like Scylla and Charybdis. The shore is also where one might encounter pirates, smallpox, or even a wayward Kraken. Then something changed. Sorbonne University historian Alain Corbin explores this unusual history in the book The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750-1840, one of the sources for a fascinating Smithsonian magazine article about "Inventing the Beach":

Around the mid-18th century, according to Corbin, European elites began touting the curative qualities of fresh air, exercise and sea bathing. Especially in Britain, home of the Industrial Revolution, aristocrats and intellectuals became preoccupied with their own health and hygiene. They viewed workers, whose numbers were multiplying in factories and new industrial towns, as strengthened through labor. By comparison, the upper classes seemed fragile and effete: lacking in physical prowess and destined for decline. The notion of the “restorative sea” was born. Physicians prescribed a plunge into chilly waters to invigorate and enliven. The first seaside resort opened on England’s eastern shore in the tiny town of Scarborough near York. Other coastal communities followed, catering to a growing clientele of sea bathers seeking treatment for a number of conditions: melancholy, rickets, leprosy, gout, impotence, tubercular infections, menstrual problems and “hysteria.” In an earlier version of today’s wellness culture, the practice of sea bathing went mainstream...

Tracing this remarkable turnaround, “the irresistible awakening of a collective desire for the shore,” Corbin concludes that by 1840, the beach meant something new to Europeans.

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Great white shark bit this California surfer's board, but fortunately not the surfer


On Saturday, Elinor Dempsey, 54, was surfing Morro Strand State Beach near San Luis Obispo, California when she noticed a great white shark approaching her. Read the rest

Lifeguard flies rainbow flag, idiotic complaints follow


On July 4, Zach Hupp, a lifeguard on Carolina Beach, NC, flew a rainbow flag from his post. Hupp says someone immediately complained to another lifeguard, concerned "that they thought because I was flying that flag that I would only rescue gay people," and someone else posted on the town's Facebook page that she "didn't know how to explain this one to the tourists who asked us about it." Read the rest

WATCH: Kid vs. kite. Spoilers: kite wins


A very talented kite enthusiast at the Huntington Beach Pier had some fun playing tag with a kid. Read the rest

Video of sand grain microphotography

Last week, Cory posted about Dr. Gary Greenberg's marvelous microscope photography of sand grains. Greenberg literally wrote the book on sand grain microphotography, titled A Grain of Sand: Nature's Secret Wonder. Above, is a beautiful video promo for the 2008 book. Read the rest

Massive hovercraft lands on crowded beach

Sunbathers on Russia's Baltic Coast were surprised by massive hovercraft landing on the beach. According to BBC News, Russian authorities said this was part of a "routine training exercise." Read the rest

Fossil hunting on Rockaway Beach

Superstorm Sandy brought fossils up from the ocean depths.

What's climate change ruining today?

In Virginia, rising sea levels are threatening Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge's ability to provide free parking near the beach for the summer tourists who provide a major source of income in the region. Here's a hell of a quote: "Zones that used to be parking areas in the 1990s are now underwater." Also threatened: The beach itself. Read more Daily Climate. (Via Brendon Slotterback) Read the rest