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Date of Issue: October 07, 2009


Stinging season, or not, BOLO in local waters

Things that sting seem to stick to Anna Maria Island’s shores.

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Yuckie jellies
Jellyfish are off our shores, causing some stings to beachgoers. Beware if you’re going in the water.
Islander Photo: Courtesy Pat Gentry .

No need to cue the theme from “Jaws,” though. The nasties in the water may cause pain, but aren’t necessarily life-threatening.

No. 1 on the stingy-thingy list has to be sting rays. There are several species that flip or fly in our waters.

Spotted rays are found in bays and passes. As a Little Roat we called them leopard rays because they were sleek and fast and, obviously, had lots of spots.

Cow-nose rays school in numbers in the hundreds off beaches during the summer. The critter gets its name from its huge cow-like snout. It’s pretty benign. Familiar beachgoers like to stand at the head of a school and let the flatties swoop by them.

Manta rays are a deepwater creation that is like a sci-fi monster. They’re huge — sometimes 15-feet-plus across and hundreds of pounds in weight. Stories were rampant back in the day — stress the word “stories” here — about mantas jumping and crushing boats. The “stories” proved true when I saw some pictures of a crushed 30-foot cabin cruiser a buddy took when his dad’s boat limped in from offshore after an a ray-human interaction.

Mantas like to jump out of the water. Back in the day it wasn’t uncommon to see a half-dozen leap from the deep into the air on a day. Why? Dunno. As a Cortezian submitted in regarding mullet jumping, maybe the rays are trying to evolve.

Then there’s that flat fish that lurks just under the sand or mud off beaches and bays.

Sting rays may well be the bane of a beachgoer’s existence. They’re shy critters that like to burrow down under a blanket of sand where they apparently like to remain undisturbed.

Clumsy humans plod along on the sandy roof of their shelter, though, disturbing their rest. Zing! goes their sharp thing, into a foot or leg.

A buddy who got zapped said it must be like the feeling of woman giving birth. In fact, he said the only way he got through it until paramedics arrived was to do the heavy-breathing deal soon-to-be moms practice.

But, please, don’t fear the waters.

Jelly yuck

Friend Pat in Bradenton Beach has had a problem with jellyfish at her favorite beach.

Seems that jellies are thick off the beach in some places of late.

“Jellyfish are common in summer months on the Florida coast,” according to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Jim Culter in a missive to Pat. “They can be intermittently abundant and can be concentrated near shore when winds blow them in from open water. Generally, they will decrease in abundance with the onset of cooler weather or a pronounced change in wind patterns. The abundance can be patchy. The root cause of population explosions of most invertebrate marine life are not well understood.”

Culter added that some biologists believe jellyfish are becoming more common “possibly as a result of over exploitation of higher predators, climate change or increased nutrient levels due to pollution of the nearshore areas. These types of community shifts are difficult to explain because there is so little research being conducted on this type of ecological interaction and there are no monitoring programs designed to observe these events.”

Joe Westerman with Manatee County Marine Rescue said that there have been six “hits” of jellyfish on humans of late, three in the past week.

No stingray interactions so far, though.

Sandscript factoid?

Sorry for the below. Blame it on the boss, who sent it to me.

A couple lived near the Gulf of Mexico and used to walk the beach a lot. One summer they noticed a girl who was at the beach pretty much every day.

She wasn't so different from the rest of the crowd, nor was the travel bag she carried, except for one thing. She would approach people who were sitting on the beach, glance around, then speak to them. Generally, the people would respond negatively and she would wander off, but occasionally someone would nod and there would be a quick exchange of money for something she carried in her bag.

The couple assumed she was selling drugs and debated calling law enforcement, but since they didn't know for sure, they just continued to watch her.

After a couple of weeks of activity, the wife asked, "Honey, have you ever noticed that she only goes up to people with boom boxes and other electronic devices?"

He said he hadn't, and so she said, "Tomorrow, I want you to get a towel and our big radio and go lie out on the beach. Then we can find out what she's really doing." 

Well, the plan went off without a hitch, and the wife was almost hopping up and down with anticipation when she saw the girl talk to her husband and then leave.

The man met his wife at the road. "Well, is she selling drugs?" she asked excitedly." 

“No, she's not," he said, enjoying this probably more than he should have.

"Well, what is it, then?" his wife fairly shrieked.

The man grinned and said, "Her name is Sally and she's a battery salesperson."

"Batteries?" cried the wife.

"Yes," he replied. "Sally sells C cells by the seashore."

Sorry to be so corny, but maybe you got a chuckle?

 

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