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.
BeachHunter’s Florida Gulf Beaches Access Guide: Finding Your Paradise on Florida’s Lower Gulf Coast
As the seasons and winds change in the U.S., the Portuguese Man o War begin to arrive in large numbers.
First of all, there are no real seasons for the Man o War, as such, but because of wind currents associated with season change and weather interruptions, the Man o War is on the leading edge of those winds since it has no propulsion system other than inflating it’s crown with gas and catching the wind.
What is typically recognized however, is the Man o War are, as a general rule, found along and around the Florida coast lines to Pensacola from late October thru February, the largest concentration generally in Nov and Feb.; the same as Costa Rica from March to May and to some degree the 10th day after every full moon in Hawaii. There is a long history of documenting these events so it is reasonable to believe these expectations every year.
Now, if you were stung by a Man o War, you were stung by an Atlantic Portuguese Man o’ War. There is no jellyfish specie known as a Man o’ War..A MOW is a siphonophore..a colony of 4 organisms..don’t have enough time and space to detail that ..there are 3 species of Man o War but all the same if that makes sense..the Atlantic, the recently acknowledge Pacific and the Blue Bottle Man o War..the Atlantic reported to have the nastiest sting but how would one compare them as all three are very painful. They differ in size with the Atlantic the largest and the blue bottle the smallest but don’t think for an instant that changes how nasty the stings are.
The indications that you have been stung by a Man O’ War are: Stinging, burning, redness, swelling of lymph nodes. You may see long welt lines. In some people sensitive to the Man O’ War venom, there may be severe reactions, including difficulty with breathing and cardiac arrest.
The sting toxin secreted from the tentacles is a neurotoxin about seventy-five percent as powerful as cobra venom. The welts can last for minutes to hours.
Studies on the effectiveness of meat tenderizer, baking soda, papain, or commercial sprays (containing aluminum sulfate and detergents) on nematocyst stings have been contradictory. It’s possible these substances cause further damage.
Check out our OCS Man o War sting 1st aid kit is specially designed to deliver medically proven, safe and effective sting relief from the MOW. Don’t get stung without it !!
“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 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
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.
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.
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.
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…
Millepora alcicornus is a common member of the Caribbean reefs and across the Bermuda platform. These hydrozoans are members of the family Milleporidae. The hydrocorals can be found in varying habitats including deep reefs, surf zones and reef flats but are restricted mainly to coral reefs. M. alcicornis gets its name fire coral from the painful stings it can inflict on Scuba divers and snorkelers.
Fire coral Fist Aid Kits
Don’t get stung without it!
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
The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture prey, mainly fish and shrimp. A sting from a lionfish is extremely painful to humans and can cause nausea and breathing difficulties, but is rarely fatal.
Lionfish, also called turkey fish, dragon fish and scorpion fish, are native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the Indo-Pacific, although they’ve found their way to warm ocean habitats worldwide.
Currently they are a big cause for concern at Florida’s reef as they have few natural enemies such as some big shark species. They are taking over in large numbers and multiplying quickly eating many other endangered reef fish. Speculation of their release ranges from Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path to mis-guided fish collectors that released them when they could not make money from their sale.
Celene Couseau ( http://celinecousteau.wordpress.com/ ) has attested to their tasting good making them somewhat popular to very careful spear fishermen.
Learn, Connect, Defend!
Some of the information above is from National Geographic
Photo: Andy Wingate (tagged)
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.
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
Cownose rays get their name from their unique forehead, which resembles the nose of a cow. They are brown to olive-colored on top with no spots, and pale below. Cownose males are about 2½ feet across. Females are 2-3 feet across.The tail is about twice as long as the body. Beach-goers sometimes mistake these rays for sharks. When the rays are swimming near the surface, the tips of the wings sometimes stick out of the water, resembling a shark’s dorsal fin.
Cownose rays can be found in the Atlantic Ocean along western Africa, the eastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. They are considered an open ocean species, but can inhabit inshore, shallow bays and estuaries. They prefer warm temperate and tropical waters to depths of 72 feet. Many gather in Chesapeake Bay during the summer months.
Cownose rays feed on bottom-dwelling shellfish, lobster, crabs and fish. To locate their prey, cownose rays have electroreceptors on their snouts as well as excellent senses of smell and touch. They will stir up the bottom with their flexible wing tips or use their noses to root around in the mud or sand. Once they find their prey, they flap their wings rapidly to move the sand aside.
They suck water and sand into their mouths and blow it out through their gills to create a depression in the sand that allows easier access to their food.
They have very strong teeth arranged in flat plates that are perfect for crunching hard-shelled prey. These rays spit out the shells of the animals they eat, and only swallow the soft body parts.
Stingrays are known for their stingers, but they are actually very docile creatures. Cownose rays school and migrate in large groups, sometimes up to thousands of individuals. They are strong swimmers and can migrate long distances. Scientists believe that the migrations may be triggered by seasonal changes in water temperature and sun orientation.
They have been seen jumping clear out of the water and landing on their bellies, making loud smacking sounds. They don’t rest on the bottom as much as other types of stingrays.
Article courtesy of St Louis Zoo