Nestled between Jupiter and West Palm Beach is Juno Beach Pier, formerly known as Juno Beach Fishing Pier. Built in 1950 by Bessemer Properties, it was the only pier between Cape Canaveral and Palm Beach at that time. It was later purchased by Wally and Penny Sheltz in 1977.
“I loved the beach and thought it would be a fun business. We remodeled the two-story building, which sold admissions, some food and drinks, bait and tackle, with bathrooms downstairs and an apartment upstairs,” wrote Penny Sheltz about the Juno Beach Pier. “We had fathers bringing their kids to fish and telling us about the days they fished the pier with their dads. Generations grew up on the pier, and wives would bring their husbands’ ashes and asked to throw them off as requested because of all the good memories there,” she wrote.
The pier was open year-round. Mostly in the summer season, pier-goers, residents, fishermen and anglers gathered around the pier rail to catch a variety of fish— whiting, snappers, snook, kingfish, barracudas, and other hefty gamefish, such as sharks. However, throughout the years, the pier’s structure began to deteriorate and in 1984, 20-foot storm waves destroyed the center of the structure. Efforts were made to save the pier, but after unsuccessful attempts, the pier was sold. Later in 1985, during a training exercise, the town’s fire department burned down the two-story entrance building, and a year after, the pier was dismantled. In 1999, Palm Beach County rebuilt the pier into a 990-foot, t-shape pier spanning magnificently into the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, the $2.2 million iconic landmark is a popular local fishing and recreational attraction owned by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department and managed by Loggerhead Marinelife Center, welcoming guests to enjoy great saltwater fishing and wonderful scenic views. The full-service Pier House features a friendly guest services team, snack bar, gift store as well as a variety of fishing tackle, including rental poles and bait.
Juno Beach Pier is part of the Responsible Pier Initiative, providing educational workshops on responsible fishing practices. Other educational programs offered include the Kids Fishing Program, where participants learn basic fishing techniques and skills and how to reduce their impact on marine life, and private fishing lessons with expert anglers for adults and children ages 8 and up.
Juno Beach Pier is located at 14776 U.S. Highway 1, Juno Beach. For information on the Juno Beach Pier experience, including hours of operation and admission fees, visit www.marinelife.org/pier-experiences.
Ocean Rescue has yet to gather a comprehensive history written of its origin from its inception to modern times. Due to the lack of records, not all the dates below can be determined to be factual.
Aquatic safety in Palm Beach County dates back to 1885.Although the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was a tremendous aid to sailors, the Jupiter Inlet area still experienced a great number of shipwrecks. Florida’s east coast had only one Lifesaving station and it was located on the south side of the Jupiter Inlet, now known as Carlin Park. The station, under the command of Captain Carlin, was equipped with a lifeboat, surfboat, a full crew of paid “surfmen”, and an enclosed lookout tower which sat on its roof. The “surfmen” worked in six-hour shifts, taking turns patrolling the beach and looking into the distance from the crow’s nest above the two-story station to look for ships in distress and to save lives. Captain Carlin kept their skills sharp, practicing rescue techniques with the surfboat and other lifesaving tools. Surfmen were members of the United States Life-Saving Service which later became part of the United States Coast Guard. The Jupiter Lifesaving Station closed after its crew had performed a decade of courageous rescues.
Prior to 1969 in Palm Beach County, an Afro American male, named Kirby, was designated as a Park Ranger/Lifeguard and was stationed at Jupiter Beach Park. He was a large soft spoken man that was respected and feared. The Sherriff’s Department had one Officer/Lifeguard stationed in his patrol car at the Twin City Mall in Lake Park with a rescue buoy who responded to incidents when notified. By 1970, the residents of Palm Beach County were demanding more public beaches and lifeguards and so the Palm Beach County Beach Patrol began with three guarded beaches: DuBois Park, Jupiter Beach and Carlin Park.
There were five full time lifeguards and one part time lifeguard. Dave McGregor was the first Lifeguard Supervisor and was also a commercial fisherman. The Beach Patrol Headquarters was under the staircase of the now Lazy Loggerhead restaurant at Carlin Park. Carlin Park also served as the Patrol’s overall training area and was the most popular beach. The lifeguards were equipped with a buoy, basic first aid equipment, a rescue board, and an open satellite stand to view swimmers and boaters. The swimming areas were roped off until the implementation of swim area buoys. The lifeguards worked eight-hour days five days a week. To be hired, a lifeguard needed to be CPR-certified, demonstrate they were a competent ocean swimmer and paddle a rescue board. By the late 1970s, lifeguards were required to be certified in American Red Cross Lifesaving, run one mile, swim half a mile and perform rescues to be hired. Today, applicants have similar distances to be hired, however, they run and swim continuously in three loops on the beach.
Back in the 1970s, a guard would phone daily to a radio station to broadcast beach conditions. The report served as a helpful public service announcement and to build good public relations. Today, both Ocean Rescue districts post a daily beach conditions report on the Parks and Recreation website and record it as a message on a designated phone line.
In 1974, voters approved a $50 million bond that was used to pay for six new beach parks. Work started on the six parks in 1977 when the county won the last of the court challenges. Also in 1974, the county enclosed a picnic pavilion at Carlin Park for the lifeguard headquarters (later demolished in 2008). The other beaches did not have a lifeguard office; the lifeguards stored their rescue and medical equipment in the plumbing chase between the public restrooms. The first backroom offices had no A/C. The lifeguards bought and installed A/C wall units, later replaced by the county when they broke. When Ocean Reef Park opened in 1987 it was the first backroom office to have showers and a restroom for staff.
The lifeguards primarily rescued boaters. The Jupiter Inlet mouth and surrounding waters were infamous for the lives and variety of crafts it claimed. The most significant hazard was the sand bar east of the inlet. The lifeguards rescued boaters using rescue boards designed to float up to three persons. In 1977, the statistics of the many boater mishaps prompted purchasing two surfboats. By then the lifeguard staff had grown to eighteen, and the two surfboats were put in service at the “rescue boat station” at Jupiter Beach Park. The surfboats were used to rescue victims in up to ten-foot breaking waves. Three lifeguards on staff that had previous rowing experience were tasked to share their expertise and train the lifeguards on rowing and handling the boat in surf. One of the guards, Dave Lill, later became the first Ocean Rescue Chief, then Aquatics Supervisor, and finished his career with Palm Beach County as the Aquatics Director. In the early 1980s each beach was equipped with oxygen and a positive pressure resuscitator to aid in CPR, and there was a designated Training Officer.
Also in 1977, the CETA Program (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) under President Jimmy Carter enabled Palm Beach County to hire several full time lifeguards, many of which became career lifeguards. The purpose of the program was to attack the problem of unemployment, and to train workers and provide them with jobs in public service. CETA funds were administered in a decentralized fashion by state and local governments, on the assumption that they could best determine local needs.
In 1979 the county built two enclosed lifeguard towers. At the time they were the first of their kind in South Florida. The towers protected the guards from inclement weather conditions, and improved the guard’s visibility by placing the guard eye level at 20 feet above sea level. The towers had wraparound windows, a walk-around deck, telephone communication and was able to store all the rescue equipment. The towers were placed at Kreusler Park and Jupiter Beach Park. By 1981, a Central District was formed (later renamed South District) which included Kreusler Park and Phil Foster Park. The Central District worked four ten-hour days while the north district continued working five eight-hour days until mid-1983. The ten-hour day is still in effect today which offers substantial benefits by providing a longer protected bathing day to the public and the ability to conduct in-house training without affecting service to the public, which results in better qualified and trained lifeguards. The ten-hour day continues to be an attraction to recruit both full time and part time lifeguards.
In 1984 the county acquired its first four-meter rigid-hull inflatable rescue boat (RIB) with a 40-horsepower engine that was stationed at the Jupiter Inlet. Lieutenant Peter Leo, already a licensed USCG Captain, and Lt. Chuck Price were chosen to be the first rescue boat operators for Palm Beach County. They attended a course taught by Marine Rescue Consultants of Newport Beach, CA to learn how to operate the RIB in rough water and surf conditions. Operating the RIB is a high risk skilled job that allows lifeguards to respond quickly to incidents and transport multiple victims. In 1986, Palm Beach County hosted the Marine Rescue Consultants Inflatable Rescue Boat course for other public safety agencies and continued to do so for 27 years. Today, Palm Beach County has two 5.4-meter rescue boats with 90 horsepower engines stationed at Jupiter and Ocean Inlet Park in Boynton. At one time, South Inlet Park which protects the Boca Raton Inlet had a tiller driven RIB. Since then, the boat was replaced with a Personal Water Craft, known as a Rescue Water Craft (RWC) when used for rescuing and in emergency situations. The RWCs are reliable, high speed, shallow draft vessels that can be extremely quick and maneuverable, essential qualities when responding to emergencies in rough surf and breaking waves. The county purchased its first RWC in 2001. In addition to the craft at South Inlet, there is one at Jupiter Beach and one has been purchased to be put in operation at Phil Foster Park.
Boat rescues and assists have decreased over the years due to other public and private agencies assisting boaters, an increased amount of recreational boaters that will assist others, improved technology and the quality of boats. Ocean Rescue continues to be the chief agency that can rescue boaters in large breaking waves. Today, the majority of the rescues performed are due to rip currents. Rip currents are created primarily by the force of incoming waves, combined with the force of gravity creating a backrush of water to sea. They can move at over 4 mph, vary greatly in size and power, hard to detect to the untrained eye and are a dangerous hazard to swimmers. On average, Palm Beach County lifeguards perform a few hundred rip current rescues each year. This number would be much higher if not for their diligence in preventative actions to move, warn, and educate patrons. On average, lifeguards perform over 100,000 preventative actions a year.
From 1977-1984, beach attendance increased 800% to 1.2 million at 12 guarded beach parks with a staff of nearly 70. In 1986, Loggerhead Park opened and the north district HQ was relocated there from Carlin. The North District HQ moved one more time to a new building in Juno Beach Park in 2007. The new HQ, named after former Aquatics Division Director Dave Lill, is a vast improvement with a conference and storage room, male and female restrooms with showers and locker rooms and four offices. The previous Loggerhead HQ was demolished in 2009. The South District HQ was located in Gulfstream Park in the early 1980s and was relocated to Ocean Inlet Park in 2011, when the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Office Marine unit vacated the building to move their operation to Phil Foster Park.
In 1996, Palm Beach County Beach Patrol became one of the first 50 Beach Safety Agencies in the United States to be certified by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA). The county has maintained the certification since its inception and has been approved as a USLA certified agency through 2024. The certification demonstrates a commitment to providing a high level of public safety in the open water environment.
In 2000, Ocean Rescue Chief Don May changed the name of the division from Beach Patrol to Ocean Rescue. Job titles have also changed. The original job title of an Ocean Lifeguard was called Lifeguard II. Lieutenants, once referred to as Beach Captains, were titled Lifeguard III. The Captains were titled Assistant District Beach Patrol Supervisor, and the Chief was known as Beach Safety Supervisor. Job descriptions have been revised as well. New descriptions reflect Ocean Rescue work as Public Safety work that provides on-scene emergency medical care, as well of other changes.
Ocean Rescue has evolved over the years with the upgrade and addition of new equipment. Some examples of medical equipment used by lifeguards include AED’s, oral and nasal pharyngeal airways, pulse oximeters, blood pressure monitors, Narcan, epi pens, and glucose. Whistles and hand signals, still used today, were the original means of communication between guards and the public. Today, each lifeguard carries an 800 MHz radio, which is the easiest way for a guard to communicate with partners, other beaches in the district and interagency communication with Fire Rescue (EMS) and Park Rangers. The landline phones in the towers became difficult to maintain due to erosion and salt intrusion and have been replaced with cell phones. Changes in policies and certification requirements have improved the operation along with the implementation of a Trainee Academy, Fire Rescue Dispatch protocols, improved lifeguard towers, public education and competition teams and a Medical Director under contract.
When Ocean Cay Park opened in 2001 and lifeguard protection began at Peanut Island in 2005, the number of protected beach parks grew to sixteen. Today, beach attendance is over 5.7 million visitors with a staff of 112. There is one chief, two district supervisors, two captains, two training officers, 16 lieutenants, 47 permanent lifeguards, 40 seasonal lifeguards, and two general maintenance workers. Palm Beach County Ocean Lifeguards are all exceedingly skilled and trained ocean athletes and dedicated individuals who offer an outstanding life saving service to all visitors of County beaches. They strive to keep all beachgoers safe through protection, prevention, and education.
The knowledge, skills and rigorous training of these dedicated professionals has yielded some notable awards.
1990 – First place in the Southeast Regional USLA Competition
1992 – First place in the Southeast Regional USLA Competition
1996 – Beach Patrol of the Year by the Florida Beach Patrol Chief’s Association
2003 – First place in the Bill Shearer International Basic Life Support Competition at CLINCON
2004 – First place in the USLA National Competition
2009 – Paul Drucker awarded the USLA SER Lifetime Achievement Award
2010 – Kevin Tillman awarded the USLA SER Lifetime Achievement Award
2016 – Beach Patrol of the Year by the Florida Beach Patrol Chief’s Association
2018 – First place in the Southeast Regional USLA Competition
2021 – First place in the Southeast Regional USLA Competition
Seven Palm Beach County Ocean Lifeguards have been named Lifeguard of the Year in the state of Florida.
On June 25, PBC Parks Ocean Rescue hosted its 12th annual Summer Mile Swim at R.G. Kreusler Park, located at 2882 S Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach.
An electronic timing system was successfully introduced, providing quick race results for the adults and youth who participated in the thirteen different categories. This year’s overall summer mile swim winners were Phil Woton and Caitlin Dundey, both winning their first ever overall male and female first place.
PBC Parks Ocean Rescue’s Ocean Mile Swim competitions have a reputation for being among the best run safest open water swimming events in South Florida where typically more than 100 swimmers compete annually.
For 50 years, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department (PBC Parks) has provided diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, and opportunities for healthy, happy living for its residents and visitors.
PBC Parks was created in 1951 as a department under the direction of the County Engineers Office. Reorganization in 1972 led to the separation of Parks and Engineering and so PBC Parks and Recreation Department was born. During the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, responding to Palm Beach County’s exploding population growth and its equally exploding demand for leisure services, aggressive expansion efforts were accomplished.
Today, PBC Parks is the 11th largest Park and Recreation agency in the country operating more than 110 parks and recreational facilities, spanning more than 8,500 acres, and provides organized recreational programs and services for people of all ages and abilities.
The department’s core services include ensuring access to beach and water bodies; facilitating health and wellness opportunities; providing for youth enrichment, sports/athletic programming and facilities; promoting stewardship of natural, archeological and cultural sites; and providing for trails and open space for picnic facilities.
PBC Parks play a vital role in maintaining a healthy and resilient environment for residents and visitors. Providing opportunities for healthy, happy living through parks, inclusive experiences and environmental stewardship has shown over the years that park usage is not only for physical activity, but to cope with mental health and enhance one’s physiological well-being and quality of life.
“It is truly amazing to see the growth of our park system over the last 50 years,” said Eric Call, PBC Parks and Recreation director. “With more than 10,000 park agencies across the United States, being recognized as one of the best is a tribute to our residents, elected officials and employees.”
PBC Parks is a two-time winner of the National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management—the highest honor in the industry. The department was recognized for its best practices and commitment to environmental sustainability, health, and community building, as well as the ability to address the social, recreational and wellness needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials.
For more information about PBC Parks, visit www.pbcparks.com and follow @PBCParks and #pbcparks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and WordPress.
On June 8, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with Visit Palm Beach, The Nature Conservancy’s Blowing Rocks Preserve, Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, Beach Bucket Foundation, and Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area hosted a cleanup to celebrate and draw attention to World Ocean Day, which is recognized on June 8 every year.
Approximately eight million tons of plastic enter the marine ecosystem impacting thousand species of marine life every year. More than 110 volunteers of all ages, worked together to remove more than 700 pounds of trash from the Atlantic shoreline and Intracoastal Waterway along Coral Cove Park in Tequesta, Fla., 200 pounds more than the previous year.
Volunteers walked, kayaked and used their paddleboards to collect trash, harmful debris, and other pollutants from the Coral Cove Park’s Atlantic shore and waterway. All cleanup supplies were provided by the Beach Bucket Foundation.
This event provided an opportunity to educate the community and reflect on the important role the overall marine environment has for our public health and the planet. We hope others can be inspired to take these small steps towards long-term sustainability and protection of our marine ecosystem that supports and connects us all.
To learn more about World Ocean Day and other volunteer opportunities to keep our Palm Beach County-operated parks and beaches clean, visit www.pbcparks.com.
By Captain Bob Branham, birding photographer, wildlife enthusiast and Palm Beach County resident
To get started birding in South Florida is easy—simply go outside and look around. Even in the city, there may be plenty of opportunities to observe birds. Do a simple Google search for birding spots near you and you’re likely to find a park or natural area nearby. Ponds and canals are great habitats for wading birds, osprey, ducks in winter and maybe a hawk if you’re lucky. Some county parks such as the Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands and Wakodahatchee Wetlands have engineered boardwalks and are managed to attract birds and wildlife—these spots are exceptional places to try. Beaches will have variety of gulls, terns, pelicans, plovers, sand pipers and loads of other maritime visitors . Never pass up a chance to drive through the agricultural areas west of town. You may find many species of raptors including eagles, caracara, and owls. As your appetite grows, you may find yourself on an airboat or bass boat trip through the heart of the everglades—a must have experience for sure.
Generally, any park with some open space, a pond or canal, and plenty of native plants will have interesting bird life. Between January and February, Palm Beach County’s bird population is enhanced with migratory birds from up north. Many warbler species fly through the area to end up farther south but some stick around and spend the winter here. Migratory raptors include red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, white-tailed kites and American kestrels. Some nature centers put out feeders to help attract songbirds. One of the stars of our winter visitors is the painted bunting—a truly spectacular sight. My favorite parks in PBC are Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay Wetlands. A visit to these areas is never disappointing and they are very close together, so you can do both in one outing.
While you’re out looking for interesting places you will quickly be able to recognize quality habitat. It’s not always what you would expect. When you find a group of birds in a field try to identify what has brought them there, then try to find those conditions elsewhere. Some birds have learned to live with people. They will be the easiest to approach and photograph. Wading birds are very dependent on water levels and water levels continually rise and fall. Winter brings our dry season and falling water levels are what concentrate these birds. It is not uncommon to see 10 species together feeding in these drying ponds. If you go birding on the coast or at the beach, remember it will be best the last half of the falling tide—low tide is best.
I like to take pictures and I find the best light for photography is morning and evening but if the weather is nice I’ll stay out all day. Changing weather seems to get the birds moving so the days before a front passes and a day or two after can be great. I like a bit of wind rather than a calm day and I like to catch the sunrise when I can. Clouds and colors can be pretty special when things are right. Birds are usually most active in the morning—ospreys will be fishing, caracara will be hunting for road kill and the song birds will be singing.
At some point along your birding adventure, you may want to take your own pictures. Generally, the better equipment you have the easier it will be to get a great shot. A fast, long lens will help and wearing earth tones or camo in the field will help you get closer without drawing too much attention. I find my car makes a suitable blind but I also have a small pop up blind that I use from time to time. Try to stake out an area of activity and be patient. Birds that live in parks near people are usually much more approachable than those in the wild are. I seldom use a tripod—preferring to hand hold the camera most of the time—but a good sturdy tripod is worth having especially in a blind. Have your camera settings dialed in and always be ready for a shot—it sometimes happens very quickly so keep alert and watchful. Take lots of photos and delete the bad ones. Only show off you best shots.
Tips to make your birding experience more enjoyable:
Borrow or purchase a pair of binoculars.
Get a field guide to birds. The library is a great resource and has many books about birds in North America.
Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection like a hat and sunscreen.
Wear comfortable shoes and sun protection like a hat and sunscreen.