The Gulf Coast is a popular place to be. Vacationers, retirees, and people, in general, enjoy the beautifully warm weather year-round and the host of activities there are to do, especially around the beaches. All of that fun can hide notes of danger lurking underneath though. It’s important to keep an eye out for the local wildlife, especially those that can be dangerous.
Stingrays managed to acquire a rather nasty reputation in a very short amount of time, thanks to one of them being responsible for the death of Steve Irwin. Fortunately, stingray fatalities are incredibly rare. These animals aren’t naturally aggressive, and the negative encounters people have with them are almost entirely defensive on the part of the stingray. Reports of being stung by a stingray usually happen because a human stepped on them. Shuffling your feet in the sand as you wade alerts the stingray to your presence and they’ll move along to avoid you.
Stingrays aren’t the only creature to watch out for. The Portuguese Man-of-War is another Gulf Coast resident that you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled for. They look a bit like jellyfish, but they’re their own creature, or rather, their own colony of creatures. Man-of-War have long, thin tentacles that deliver painful stings when touched. You might see them washed up on the beach or floating along on the surf. Their light, translucent coloring makes them hard to spot on the water. If you do spot one, however, avoid stepping on it even if you’re sure it’s dead. In fact, you may just want to avoid that beach altogether for a while.
Like the Portuguese Man-of-War, jellyfish can dole out painful stings to anyone who contacts their tentacles. You might see these invertebrates washed up on a beach in a similar manner. Keep an eye out for them and avoid them if you see any. Just because they’re washed up and dead doesn’t mean they can’t still sting you.
It’s important to remember that whenever you visit the beach you’re taking a trip to the home of a variety of wildlife. Some of that wildlife may be completely harmless, but other animals can be dangerous. If you’re going to be spending time on Gulf Coast beaches, make sure you’re familiar with the local wildlife and keep an eye out for them so everyone stays safe.
Want to learn more? Go to Going to the Beach? 3 Indicators That You Probably Shouldn’t Swim There.