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BeachHunter’s Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide: Finding Your Paradise on Florida’s Lower Gulf Coast

This is a guide to more than 120 beach access points on the Florida Gulf coast between Tarpon Springs and Marco Island. It does not cover panhandle beaches or Florida Key’s beaches. It is most useful for people traveling to Florida beaches by car, and will help you find parking, lifeguards, dog-friendly beaches, remote beaches, full-service beaches and much more. It’s much more than just a listing of access points. The author has personally visited and photographed all of the beaches in this book multiple times and provides detailed descriptions of what each beach offers as well as his personal recommendations.

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http://www.amazon.com/BeachHunters-Florida-Beaches-Access-Guide/dp/1489589988/

The Truth About Getting Stung by a Lionfish

Posted by Erin Spencer in Explorers Journal on August 8, 2013

“It won’t kill you, but it’ll make you wish you were dead”.

That’s how Mike Ryan described a lionfish sting as he briefed a boat full of people before an afternoon dive. Mike, an instructor at Horizon Divers in Key Largo, developed the Lionfish Safari Diver course for recreational divers to learn about invasive lionfish and try their hand at hunting the fish themselves. For a group of inexperienced hunters, that was probably the last thing we wanted to hear.

That wasn’t the first time someone warned me about the stings of this invasive predator. When you’re dealing with lionfish, the topic is bound to come up. In almost every interview I conducted, the conversation eventually turned to a dramatically recounted story of the time (or times) the interviewee was stung, each tale more cringe-worthy than the last. And while it’s clear that getting pricked by a lionfish is no walk in the park, stings can be easily avoided by proper handling techniques and safety measures. Be sure to keep the following three things in mind when dealing with lionfish to decrease your risk of getting stung.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish stings can occur long after the fish has died. Photo by Erin Spencer.

Lionfish spines are used defensively, not offensively.

Lionfish spines are used as a deterrent for predators rather than for hunting prey. So don’t worry- lionfish aren’t about to ambush unsuspecting divers or swimmers. Lionfish only use their weapons defensively; therefore simply steering clear of their venomous dorsal, ventral, and anal spines can avoid stings.

If you are stung, a loose sheath surrounding each spine is pushed down, compressing two venom glands located down then length of the spine. Neurotoxic venom then travels through two parallel grooves up the spine and into the wound. Sounds unpleasant, right? Better just to avoid the spines in the first place.

Lionfish safety applies both on and off the water. 

The overwhelming majority of lionfish stings result from people simply not paying attention.

Stings can occur even after the lionfish is dead.

Stings can occur even after the fish have died, so handlers should be aware of their lionfish at all times, whether they are underwater, on a boat, or back in the kitchen filleting the fish up for dinner. I heard many stories of victims unknowingly sticking their hands into coolers containing lionfish and finding a painful surprise inside.

 

So make sure everyone you’re with knows where the lionfish are located, as well as which of the fishes’ spines are dangerous. Some handlers (myself included) choose to use medical-grade puncture-proof gloves to help protect from stings. Although these gloves don’t protect all potential sting sites, they decrease the risk of accidental envemonation when handling the fish.

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Puncture-proof gloves are a great way to decrease your risk of getting stung. Photo by Eric Billips

Just in case, know what to do if you get stung.

Even if you follow all the safety precautions, sometimes mistakes happen. Immediate first response can help decrease pain and swelling, so have a plan in place if you or anyone you’re with is going to be handling lionfish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends immersing the wound in hot (but not scalding) water for about 30 minutes as soon as possible after the sting occurs – this helps denature the lionfish venom and decrease pain.

If necessary, remove any spines still located in the wound. Lionfish stings are rarely fatal, but in extreme cases nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions can result, so monitor symptoms closely. One spear fisherman swore that if someone had offered to amputate his stung foot, he would have accepted the invitation gladly.

On the other hand, a divemaster I spoke with said he barely noticed the pain when he was stung, and didn’t experience any swelling or adverse effects. Ultimately, everyone seems to respond to stings differently. Most people I talked to experienced some pain and swelling for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

The important thing to remember is this: the more you know about stings, the more effectively you can prevent them. Pay attention to your lionfish at all times and have a plan in place in case you or a friend gets stung. There are quite a few examples of people who have dealt with large quantities of lionfish and have never been stung, proving that with proper handling and a bit of luck, you can avoid envenomation. But remember, on the off chance you do get pricked, you’ll at least have a great lionfish war-story to tell your friends.

http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

Lionfish continue to populate, pose threats to coral reefs

By Annie Chambers..U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Jacksonville District

Their dorsal spines and zebra-like bodies may draw one in for a closer look. Commonly used in aquariums for show, the invasive lionfish has made its way from the South Pacific and Indian Oceans to the east coast. In the past decade, they’ve been rapidly expanding from Florida to North Carolina, as well as the Caribbean.

A red lionfish swims in the Atlantic Ocean. The aquarium trade is the most likely explanation for the invasion of the lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean.

Lionfish may live longer than 15 years and reach sizes exceeding 20 inches. Their venomous spines are capable of fending off predators and stinging humans, according to the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF), an active organization of divers and marine enthusiasts. Lionfish reproduce throughout the year, nearly every four days, and females can spawn over 2 million eggs per year.

Lionfish are venomous and have up to 18 needle-like spines.  However, the meat of the lionfish is not poisonous. If stung, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends treating a puncture wound by immersing it in hot water for 30-90 minutes, and seeking medical attention as soon as possible. The Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 is available 24 hours a day.

Coral reef community population structure and dynamics are at risk as a result of the influx of lionfish. These predators out-compete other species such as fish and invertebrates for food resources and they have few known predators, according to NOAA’s Coral Reef Information System (CORIS) website.

NOAA’s experts believe that lionfish populations will continue to grow and are unable to be controlled with conventional methods. Lionfish are established along the southeastern coast of the United States, Bermuda, the Bahamas and throughout the Caribbean.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently waived the recreational fishing license requirement to harvest lionfish. The change allows divers to easily assist in the control of the lionfish population. This will allow people to take as many of the invasive fish as possible.
NOAA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as well as professional and recreational diving communities are working to help remove and control lionfish. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission encourages people to remove lionfish; they can be speared, caught in hand-held nets or caught on hook and line. Lionfish can be reported to REEF’s

Photo: NOAA

LionFish-kit

Highly venomous jellyfish coming to a beach near you…Northeast U.S. sees Man o War

Significant blooms of venomous warm-water species of Mauve jellyfish and the Portuguese Man o War have arrived in numbers along the Atlantic east coast and north east coastal waters to the Hampton’s and beyond respectively.  both deliver potent and very painful stings.Many’s the argument as to the cause for the explosion of jellies worldwide with claims centered on global warming of sea waters is causing the biggest movement of marine species, according to a study by 17 different institutes, called Project Clamer. The Pelagia noctiluca “dominates in many areas and outbreaks have become an annual event, forcing the closing of beaches,” says the report.  “This form of jellyfish is a gluttonous predator of juvenile fish, so researchers consider its spread a harmful trend.”However, there was further bad news as the report also warned that the highly-venomous Portuguese Man O’War is also moving closer and in abundance.

Physalia physalis; a jellyfish-like creature (really a 4 organism siphonophore) usually found in subtropical waters, is more regularly being discovered in northern Atlantic waters as recently as the holiday weekend in Martha’s Vineyard of the Massachusetts coast.  Likely driven by warm current and winds not seen since 2006, the Man o War is not typically found this far north.  It is not uncharacteristic to see the Lion’s Mane, another nasty stinger, in the cooler waters typical to the northern shores now in addition to these animals.

ManOWar-kit

It might be time to buy yourself a new pair of jelly shoes for the beach or take along OCS Jellyfish Sting Relief spray and/or  our MOW 1st Kit…We hope you don’t need it but if you do, you will be glad you have it..The Solution for marine sting injuries…Don’t get stung without it!!

 

Jellyfish return to nation’s coast

They’re back!  And we’re not talking hurricanes, though that season is officially underway.  And, no, this is not about sharks, since Discovery’s Shark Week doesn’t start until August.

No, it’s time for the increasingly unpopular annual return of swarms of jellyfish to beaches around the world. Last year they made much of the western Mediterranean unswimmable. A couple of weekend’s ago – the official start of summer — thousands of nasty, golf-ball sized jellyfish washed ashore on Florida’s east coast, stinging beach goers as they arrive. Red and Purple warning flags were posted on beaches from Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral.

In large part thanks to the over fishing of big predator fish and warmer ocean waters, jellies are showing up sooner, in bigger numbers and far beyond home territories. For the first time since 2006, the Portuguese Man o War are in numbers along the New England coast particularly the Hamptons.  In Florida they clogged the shallows and took over the wet sand of the beach. Lifeguard stands stocked up with vinegar-and-water solutions to help try and diffuse the itching, burning and rashes, which beats urinating on them, though its proven that OCS Jellyfish sting relief neutralizes the sting and helps alleviate itching and swelling.

IMG_3501     ManOWar-kit

Despite air temps in the 90’s and water temperature of 80+, it’s not just the abundance of jellyfish in Florida’s that was surprising, it was the species. Large numbers of animals washing ashore are the Pelagia Noctiluca or mauve stinger, the cannonball and the Portuguese Man o War although not in abundance yet.  Compact but fitted with long tentacles, these are exactly the same jellyfish that harassed Mediterranean beaches during the summer of 2012 and present this summer.

jellyfish..Mauve

Scientists believe they were transported across the Atlantic in the Gulf Stream, which wraps around the coast of Florida, suggesting they will be a hindrance on many Gator state beaches this summer. Meanwhile across the pond, biologists who study the Irish Sea are blaming a similar boom in jellyfish there on the overfishing of herring, which has given jellyfish an “exponential boost” in population. The trend has been growing since 2005.

Though explanation for why these jellyfish on these beaches is still being studied, it’s clear that since humankind has taken 100 to 120 million tons of predators out of the sea in the past 20 years it’s left plenty of room for jellyfish populations to boom. Jellyfish thrive in disturbed marine ecosystems, from dead zones to seabeds that have been raked by trawling nets. And they are spreading around the world thanks to powerful currents and aided by stowing away on fleets of ships delivering goods around the globe.

Be sure to take along Ocean Care Solutions marine sting 1st aid products..your Solution for marine sting injuries…

Ocean Care Solutions marine sting 1st aid distribution network includes Hong Kong

Ocean Care Solutions welcomes Blue Yonder Diving Gear Distribution and Retail as a distributor in Hong Kong…They have the latest dive gear and accessories..Call or e mail Stephanie at Phone +852 3106 8383 Email Info@mydivegear.com or find them on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Yonder/599178576777067

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=469107463163920&set=a.412876138787053.98398.156715257736477&type=1&theater

Jellyfish facts…Everything you need to know…

Jellyfish are categorized due to their characteristics. The different species of jellyfish are the Red Type which is also known as the ‘China type’ can be identified as Rhopilema esculentum. These jellyfish are slightly reddish with a 12-24 inch diameter smooth umbrella.

The jellyfish is a popular seafood in eastern and southern Asian nations where there is a high market demand that stimulates large-scale jellyfish production. Due to its economic importance in China, many biological studies have focused on the jellyfish Rhopilema esculentum Kishinouye in terms of the environmental impact of aquaculture activities and culture techniques. In recent years, the commercial aquaculture of R. esculentum has expanded greatly in China

Key Lab of Marine Environmental Science and Ecology, Ministry of Education, Ocean University of China, Qingdao, 266100, China
Photo..M Kawahara

Stingray Season in Florida..April to October

Stingray season on Florida beaches runs approximately between the months of April and October. (The most popular time for Florida beach vacations. Imagine that.) It is during these months that these sea creatures come into the warmer shallow Florida Gulf Coast waters to mate.

Stingray-kit

They also are lazy and bury themselves in the bottom sand to stay away from being eaten by sharks or other larger rays. Activity and energy frighten these shy sea creatures. They can’t see well and rely on electro-sensors/vibrations to let them know they are in danger. So remember to do the “shuffle” when entering the water or take along an OCS Stingray 1st aid kit if you don’t…

David McRee..Beach Survival Guide..www.blogthebeach.com

Indo-Pacific Hell Fire Sea Anemone

Sea anemone facts….The Hell’s Fire Anemone (Actinodendron plumosum) belongs to the Actinodendron genus, and is one of the ‘stinging sea anemones’ in the Actinodendronidae family which are found only in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific.

Photo: Sea anemone facts....The Hell's Fire Anemone (Actinodendron plumosum) belongs to the Actinodendron genus, and is one of the 'stinging sea anemones' in the Actinodendronidae family which are found only in the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific.

These anemones are so named 'stinging sea anemones' because of their capacity to sting humans badly. Although all anemones have stinging cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles, these anemones have a dangerous sting that is extremely powerful and is very painful. Another anemone from this group, the Bali Fire Anemone (Megalactis hemprichi), is similar in this regard and is also referred to as a Hell's Fire Anemone.

The Actinodendron genus is a unique group of anemones that are basically in a class all their own. They look more like colonies of soft corals than actinides. Typically they have busy, branched long tentacles. The Hell's Fire Anemone has tentacles with a leaf shaped or feather-like appearance, thus they are also known as the Pinnate Anemone. They bury their foot and body in the sand with only their oral disc and tentacles emerging. When disturbed they can retract their entire body into the sand and be virtually invisible.

Credit:Animal-World

These anemones are so named ‘stinging sea anemones’ because of their capacity to sting humans badly. Although all anemones have stinging cells or nematocysts found in their tentacles, these anemones have a dangerous sting that is extremely powerful and is very painful. Another anemone from this group, the Bali Fire Anemone (Megalactis hemprichi), is similar in this regard and is also referred to as a Hell’s Fire Anemone.

The Actinodendron genus is a unique group of anemones that are basically in a class all their own. They look more like colonies of soft corals than actinides. Typically they have busy, branched long tentacles. The Hell’s Fire Anemone has tentacles with a leaf shaped or feather-like appearance, thus they are also known as the Pinnate Anemone. They bury their foot and body in the sand with only their oral disc and tentacles emerging. When disturbed they can retract their entire body into the sand and be virtually invisible.

IMG_3501

OCS Jellyfish sting relief spray is tested effective on envenomations from sea anemone..Safe, effective and lidocaine free..Don’t get stung without it !!

Article Credit:Animal-World

 

 

 

 

Portuguese Man o War…spotted worldwide

The Portuguese Man o’ War  can be found anywhere in the open ocean (especially warm water seas), but they are most commonly found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans, and the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream. The Man o’ War has been found as far north as the the northeast end of the Gulf of Maine.

They wash ashore along the northern Gulf of Mexico and the east and west coasts of Florida.  An abundance of Portuguese Man o’ Wars can be found in the waters of Costa Rica, especially in March and April.  They have been spotted recently off the coast of Spain, Ireland, in Welsh waters and in the Mediterranean near Corsica and Malta.

They are also frequently found along the east coast of South Africa, (particularly during winter storms if the wind has been blowing steadily on-shore for several hours), as well as around the Hawaiian Islands.  Strong onshore winds may drive them into bays or onto beaches. It is rare for only a single Portuguese Man o’ War to be found; the discovery of one usually indicates the presence of many as they are usually congregated by currents and winds into groups of thousands. Man o’ Wars typically travel in groups of 1,000-plus.

ManOWar-kit

Don’t get stung without it!!