As you can see, the title of this article is “Beach Marvels”. What are beach marvels? They are the wonderful creatures that live in the Gulf of Mexico and sometimes, like seashells, get washed up on the beach. Dolphins, sea turtles, Florida’s water birds, and seashells are all included. I’ve also written about Florida’a alligators and panthers, which are certainly not beach marvels, but they are Florida marvels.
Dolphins love to swim alongside boats, jumping their wakes. If you ever go on a fishing boat, you’ll most likely encounter some dolphins jumping and playing in the wake. It’s always a thrill for adults and children alike.
Dolphins have the unique ability to heal themselves when they have been severely wounded, such as when they receive a shark bite. Someday, hopefully, researchers will discover how they heal themselves so quickly and apply that knowledge to other animals and humans.
Bottlenose dolphins are able to remain under water for up to 15 minutes before surfacing to breathe through the blowhole on top of their head. They can dive very deep, but usually don’t because they need to be near the surface to have access to air.
They also like to stay in groups, hunting for food together and raising their young.
They recognize each other by a whistle which is unique to each individual dolphin.
They are fascinating and beautiful creatures of the sea and it is wonderful to spot them playing in the water. Click here to learn more.
There are seven species of sea turtles. Most of them are endangered by becoming entangled in fishing gear, pollution and poaching.
Like dolphins, sea turtles breathe air. They come is all sizes, depending on species, the smallest of which is the Kemp’s Ridley which weighs in at about 80 lbs. to the gigantic Leatherback, which can grow to 1,000 lbs.
Sea turtles have been on our planet for 100 million years. They were here while the dinosaurs were roaming.
Sea turtles have a diet of shrimp, algae, crabs, jellyfish and seaweed, depending on the species.
They are quite remarkable creatures of the sea to be sure.
The Florida Water Birds include the: Egret, Anhinga, Cormorant, Brown Pelican, Ibis, Herons and Gulls.
The Brown Pelican is a very familiar site along Florida shores. They fly along the shoreline and with their excellent vision can spot fish swimming along. When they do, they will dive into the water with great force, stunning the fish. They are graceful, as are most water birds.
Seagulls are another familiar bird along the shore. They will sometimes perch on a Brown Pelican’s head and try to steal the fish in it’s pouch while the pelican is draining the water which accumulates in its pouch.
Seagulls can be seen circling over beaches and boardwalks hoping that people will drop pieces of food. One time, on Siesta Key, I was holding a piece of pizza and turned my head. A gull came swooping down and grabbed the pizza right out of my hand. They are not very shy.
Many, many folks go to the beach specifically to collect seashells. Florida has all types of shells. In Sanibel, so many people bend over to pick up shells that they call it the ‘Sanibel Stoop’.
If you would like to learn more about Florida’s shells, please consider picking up this book,
Florida’s Seashells: A Beachcomber’s Guide by Blair Witherington. It’s a beautifully written and illustrated book. Pick up the new edition, dated May 1, 2017.
Florida is home to approximately 1 million alligators. They have been on this planet for nearly 37 million years. They have an ability to survive almost anything.
Florida has named the alligator their Official State Reptile. Large males like to travel alone and are territorial. Large malea and females will defend their territories.
The beautiful Florida panther is also known as puma, cougar and mountain lion. The panther is the Florida State Animal, but it’s numbers are dwindling to a point where it has become one of the most endangered species on the planet.
Their primary source of food is the white-tailed deer, but they’ll also eat rabbit, raccoon, armadillo and hogs.
Each male panther needs about 200 square miles to survive and each female needs about 75 square miles.
Panthers only breed in south Florida and there are only 80-100 left in the wild.
They are solitary animals and travel through forests, plains and swamps to find food. They rest during the daytime and travel 15-20 miles between dusk and dark looking for food.
Panthers live between 12-15 years in the wild. Females weigh between 60-100 lbs. and can reach a length of 6 feet from the nose to the end of the tail. Males weigh between 100-150 lbs. and can reach a length of 7-8 feet.
Unfortunately, most panther deaths are caused by automobiles. That’s why on many south Florida roads, “Panther Crossing” signs are posted to alert drivers.