Fletemeyer, J., 2014. The reliability of turbidity and debris moving seaward to spot rip currents on Florida Beaches and the need for better warning and education programs. In: Lee, J.L.; Leatherman, Stephen P., and Lee, J. (eds.), Proceedings 3rd International Rip Current Symposium (Busan, Republic of Korea). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 72, pp. 39–43. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
In response to the estimated 100 bathers that fatally drown in rip currents on America's beaches every year, several warning and public education programs have been developed and implemented. Results from a 20-year study conducted by Fletemeyer on Panama City Beach, Florida reports that these programs, although well intended, are marginally effective with little gains in what bathers accurately know about rip currents. Education programs are often predicated on the belief that the public can learn how to spot rip currents while standing on the beach and studying the water. Two indicators believed key in spotting rip currents are turbidity and debris entrapped in the rip current and floating seaward at approximately the same velocity as the current. The results of this investigation determined that rip currents cannot be reliably identified on SE Florida beaches using these two indicators. Consequently, rip current education programs relying on the belief that the public can learn how to identify rip currents must be re-evaluated. In some cases, although well intended, rip current education programs may be contributing to drowning.