The miracle of crossing the Judge Jolley Bridge is a well-known fact. All the Marco Beach Boys and Girls made that crossing, and many others over the years topped the rise, felt the magic, and decided to stay.
There are many compelling reasons to become an islander on Marco, Goodland, and the Isles of Capri, but it was not until a winter cruise through our islands with a science teacher that the magic, the mystery, and miracle of the healthy lifestyle on our islands was truly revealed.
With Marco Island closer to Havana Cuba than Orlando Florida, Southwest Florida can host some of the best winter weather anywhere. There is, however, much more than warm weather appeal and the beauty of the islands to compel visitors from the heartland to arrive year after year.
With the weather magic in full swing, and a brisk sea breeze breaking white caps over the water, one of our sailing guests sat up, stretched, and looked around at the offshore view. “This is one of the best days ever!” she exclaimed. “We saved all year for a two-week Marco vacation and I have to say, it is worth every penny!”
All aboard that day also felt the magic of the wind and the waves, but it was not until another visitor offered another remark. “I wonder why the oceans have such an appeal? We saved all year too!”
Before any comment was possible, another guest leaned forward as if to share a secret and raised her hand. “I know why people save all year for two weeks by an ocean. Its chemistry. The main reason we are all drawn to the water is purely scientific.”
With everyone now captivated, the young woman, who revealed that she was a science teacher, began our miracle of Marco education.
“Everyone has heard the old adage ‘the fresh air will do you good,’ but I can tell you why. When we are living away from large bodies of moving water, we remember that feeling that we are having today. We remember it and we crave this sensation. We remember and cherish these days because when the wind off the water is particularly fresh and everyone feels so alive and so inspired, it is because large bodies of water create negative oxygen ions that have been proven to improve health, attitude, and creativity.”
She continued, “When wind driven waves churn whitecaps over the water, the flow of negative ions is impressive. Large bodies of water with wave action atomize the tiny molecular particles that lift spirits, provide extra energy, and stimulate everything from appetite to sex drive.”
“Ion comes from the Greek word, traveler,” she explained. “Ions were first observed by German scientists in the 19th century to describe charged atoms moving in solution. Atmospheric ions are different from ions in solution because energy must be present to liberate ions into the air – the type of energy generated by moving water. The faster the water moves the more pronounced the effect. The concentration of these negatively charged particles at waterside locations can measure over 30,000 ions per cubic centimeter of atmosphere. Pollutants, automobile generated smog, and ductworks from heating systems remove negative oxygen ions from the air. Because of concentrated urban situations, the normal 2,000 to 3,000 count of ions per cubic centimeter is often reduced to levels that are undetectable.”
With everyone onboard completely focused with borderline jaw dropping amazement, our science lesson on the water continued.
“Negative ions are produced in massive amounts by moving water and sunlight. The larger the body of water, or the more turbulent the water source, the production of negative ions is more prolific. On the beach at Marco Island, the feel good and sexy ion count will easily measure up to 35,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. In office buildings and urban environments inland, the negative ion count can be anywhere from zero to only a few hundred. This is not a productive and healthy environment.”
“Even before we had the technology to determine the cause and effect of negatively charged oxygen ions, doctors would recommend a vacation to the shore to ‘take in the sea air’. The best tuberculosis sanatoriums were always located near an ocean or a major waterfall, and everyone remembers the age-old suggestion, ‘Get outside and you’ll feel better!’”
“The incredible feeling we experience when breathing this type of refreshing sea breeze is definitely the result of high concentrations of the negative oxygen ion,” she said. “On the other side of this equation, with an opposite effect, are positive ions. Positive ions are harmful and occur when occupying enclosed environments for extended periods of time. The tired, groggy feeling produced by long hours indoors will rapidly evaporate when reintroduced to a fresh waterfront breeze.”
“With most Americans today spending most of their lives indoors, can it be surprising that we save all year for a brief escape to experience the great island life and feel better?” she said. “When negative ions are inhaled, there is a marked improvement to the human constitution with a particular influence on mood. When we take in the ‘sea air’, all levels of our senses elevate, and our entire attitude improves. For those fortunate enough to breathe high concentrations of air rich in negative oxygen ions, there is a better chance of continued good health, both mental and physical, and there is more creative energy to devote to each other.”
“Is it any wonder that hundreds of people are traveling to waterside destinations every day? Or that that Marco Island, Niagara Falls, and the trade winds of the Caribbean are so popular any time of the year?” she asked. “Most of the scientific community agree – winter travelers are searching for what they subconsciously know they need. When people remain indoors because of cold weather, that tired, irritable feeling comes along, and the blues set in with a vengeance. This is why we crave what we have today. Mother Nature churns the water and makes the ocean irresistible because we all need the oxygen ions! Recreation by the water can actually be re-creation.”
When our science lesson was over, our teacher replaced her sunglasses, and took a deep breath. Everyone did. Especially the Marco Beach Boy that was wondering if the tiny particles in the sea breeze are why so many cross the bridge and choose to become islanders.
Tom Williams is a Marco Islander. He is the author of two books: Lost and Found and Surrounded by Thunder—the Story of Darrell Loan and the Rocket Men. Both books are available on Kindle and Nook.