Ocean City, MD indeed dodged a bullet in terms of damage to the coastline from Hurricane Irene—but now she faces a different kind of potentially unpleasant effect—the aftermath of a viral video.

By this point, most people reading this article will have already seen Fox D.C reporter Tucker Barnes covered in sea foam, reporting from the boardwalk as Irene made her trek up the coast.  (If you haven’t, it’s included here.)

Barnes makes comments like, “it doesn’t taste great,” and it’s “made of some sort of organic matter.”  Barnes references plankton and sand, but with no real authority on what he was speaking of–rather questioning what he was covered in—it didn’t take long for speculation to turn into presumed, and inaccurate fact as to what the matter truly was.

A quick Google search shows 267 news stories on Tucker Barnes covered in sea foam from Ocean City, MD.  Sydney, Australia, Brisbane, Chicago, New York…the locations continue with everyone from Time to the Boston Globe and various news outlets throughout the world commenting, or sharing this video in some way.  At some point, throughout the viral video spread, someone filled in what they presumed to be in the sea foam—raw sewage—making the already humorous video fodder for late night television.

The Late Show with David Letterman featured the "Top Ten Thoughts Going Through This Guy's (Weatherman Soaked With Sea Foam & Sewage) Mind At This Moment."  Furthering the rumor that Barnes was indeed covered in sewage. 

How did Tucker Barnes become the darling of the Internet in just a few hours—taking Ocean City, MD along with him?  It turns out Barnes’s own station created a twitter hashtag, #seafoam in hopes of creating a massive viral spread.  They reported the hashtag had been created on Facebook and Twitter at 7:54pm, and by 8:13 it was the top trending topic in the D.C. region.  From there it continued to spread worldwide. 

Sensationalized media—putting weathermen up to their knees in raging ocean waters battered by hurricane force winds, or in this case a never ending supply of sea foam—equals good television.  There is little doubt that Tucker Barnes’s career will likely blossom from his moments in the sea foam–shared by millions.  But the effects of such a video on a town based around tourism, is clearly the opposite.  Simply put—Ocean City, MD needs those millions of people to know that there is not, in fact, sewage in her waters.
This is the official statement from the Town of Ocean City, MD Communications Manager, Donna Abbott: 
 "It is, in fact, sea foam, a natural occurrence with sand, wind and waves. There was never any raw sewage, there were never any spills and anyone claiming to be an expert apparently has never been to a beach. Our wastewater treatment plant was taken offline at around 6 p.m. Saturday night as a precaution against any flooding. It was put back into service on Sunday morning after the storm had passed."
And there you have it.  
Note: For those of us who live near the coast–sea foam is something seen quite often.  All it takes is a relatively small storms to churn up the waters and cause foam to be pushed from the waves onto the shores.  Granted it takes a severe nor'easter or a hurricane to produce the amount that was splashing over the retaining walls covering Tucker Barnes.  And yes, it does smell like ocean, not sewage because that is in fact, what it is.  
If you are local or a vacationer to Ocean City, MD, we'd love to hear your comments below.  Have you witnessed sea foam during a storm? What kind of impact do you think this viral video has on OCMD?