It’s summertime! In Florida, that means everyone is thinking about heading to the beach. But there are a few crucial facts and information that you should know before you go. Keep reading to find out more!
Living on a peninsula comes with many beaches. For the Central Florida region, some of the most common beaches for us locals to visit are Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, and Cocoa Beach. According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), Florida was named the Shark Attack Capital of the World in 2021 for New Smyrna Beach, one of the most shark-infested beaches in the United States and arguably the world.
Most Common Sea Creatures to Encounter in Florida
Florida is known for its wildlife, so you may encounter more than just a shark if you are visiting the beach this summer. Besides bumping into a shark or two while at the beach, the beach is a part of nature, so here is a list of all the most common creatures you may encounter there:
These come in all shapes and sizes. There are more unprovoked attacks that happen than someone purposefully antagonizing the sharks. So these “attacks” are more like accidents because the sharks use their nose and mouth like how we use our hands to touch and feel something. Although terrifying, sharks have a day dedicated to them: Shark Awareness Day on July 14th. Shark Awareness Day is a day dedicated to bringing awareness about sharks and about teaching others the role sharks play in the oceanic ecosystem. Not to be confused with Shark Week, which falls from July 24th through July 31st on the Discovery Channel.
These have their own warning label when it comes to in-person encounters because you seriously do not want to get stung by one of these; however, they are found washed up and in the water at the beach. Like sharks, there are many different variations of Jelly, but they all can leave a mark if you bump into one.
While at the beach, there are a variety of birds you can spot. You’ll most likely see a Pelican or gull of sorts. Also, you should never feed them if they come up to you.
There is a probability on any beach that you might see a crab. There are a few different species found on Florida beaches. If you encounter a crab, the best thing to do is stay clear of it and leave it alone.
There is a long list of possible fish to see at the beach. The most notable to children are the little fish you may see when water washes ashore. To find these fish, you need to be looking for them because they are fast and blend in easily with the water and sand.
These majestic beauties are so magical to see in person. They normally don’t get too close to shore, but you may see them jumping farther out where it would be too deep to stand and swim.
These are beautiful and a sight to see, especially in the wild. Please keep in mind that these are a heavily protected species, meaning you should never interact with a wild sea turtle and its nest. If you happen to come upon an unmarked sea turtle nest while at the beach, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) or alert a lifeguard.
More commonly known as Sand Fleas, these little guys are those who cause the funky-looking holes when the tide washes away from the shore after a wave crashes on the beach. They are basically harmless. They help keep our oceans and shores clean by eating microorganisms/ toxins that are found in the water and shore.
Believe it or not, some crocs swim in the ocean since they are saltwater animals, but they are usually spotted near the Keys and the Everglades. Plus, there is a lot of shrubbery near the dunes on the beach. If you park your mode of transportation in a nearby parking lot rather than on the beach, be cautious because wildlife likes to hide in the shrubbery near those dunes.
It might not be common to see in the sand or near the shore; however, you can spot these critters in the parking lot near garbage cans. So be careful when disposing of garbage and waste in the trash bins at the beach.
Even though these sea creatures are fascinating, most wildlife here in Florida are endangered and protected. You should stay away from all wildlife for your and the animals’ safety. If you ever encounter sick, injured, or dead wildlife, please, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to report any incidents.
Shark Attack Prevention Tips
When living near the shark attack capital of the world, you should be informed on what to look out for and how to prevent attacks and bites from happening.
- If you see a shark in the water: Keep calm, keep it in your sights, and slowly make your way out of the water.
- Swim with others; not alone.
- Wear less flashy clothes or bathing suits; dark and bland-colored clothing is the way to go so you don’t look like their prey.
- Leave your jewelry out of the water; otherwise, it could look like shiny fish scales from the shark’s point of view.
- Avoid splashing; sharks may think your splashing is a distressed animal.
- Avoid swimming in the ocean after dark or around dusk or dawn.
- Avoid swimming near drop-offs and deep water because that is where sharks tend to hang out.
What to do If You Get Attacked by a Shark
Although our list of tips is to help prevent such an occurrence at the beach; however, at the Shark Attack Capital of the World, these things do happen.
If you happen to be attacked or bitten by a shark, you need to be ready to fight it off. Sometimes sharks bite and dash away, but other times they thrash and don’t let go. If the shark does not let go, aim for the most sensitive parts of the shark, which are the eyes, nose, and gills. Try not to use your hands to hit the shark; instead, try using equipment like a snorkel, flipper, anything. If you have nothing to hit with, use your hands but always aim for the same sensitive areas.
Aftermath of Attack
Once you can get away, try to stop the bleeding and get out of the water. Use a blanket or towel for heat to not get cold from the air or blood loss. Get medical help right away. And if you happen to see someone get injured by a shark use these tips too. Try not to move the shark victim unnecessarily and always get medical help in these types of situations.
At Lately Magazine, we are all for having fun in the sun and public safety. We hope you keep these facts and helpful tips in mind when visiting the beach! If you would like to learn more information about this article, go to our website, Latelymag.com, for more info.