Sea Creatures That Rarely Make News

Some summers, the news makes it sounds like coastal inhabitants are dodging shark attacks at every turn, so I understand why tourists are often inquisitive. But if you’re heading our way this summer, you might be missing out if you only keep watch for dorsal fins. Play the Jaws soundtrack on your phone and keep an eye out if you’d like, but keep your other eye looking for some of these less-inclined-to-eat-you creatures as well.

The ocean will ever be the largest draw here, but we have other waters: salt marshes, creeks, rivers, and the Intracoastal Waterway. There is a quiet beauty in these less tourist-filled places, where the water is calmer and the winds are less consuming.

If you go, look along the edges, where the land meets the water. That’s where you’ll find the oysters, their grey and white shells popping out of sand and pluff mud.

I think the first Carolina anole (lizard) I saw was running across the couch of a home we were looking at before we moved to the Carolinas. At the time, this was entirely unexpected.

Now, I hardly notice them, and to be fair, I’ve never had one run across my couch; they seem to prefer the ocean and the marsh to microfiber and hardwood. If you see them outside your cottage or hotel room, you might be pleased; they’re partial to bugs.

On your beach walks, keep watch for sea turtle nests. The mothers usually lay the eggs in the dunes. While dunes aren’t meant to be walked on since they protect the shoreline, most communities rope off the nests as added protection for the eggs until they hatch. Most nests hatch at night, so they’re hard to catch, but if you get the chance to witness one, I’d take it. Imagine a hundred or so hatchlings making their way to the sea. For many, it’s bucket list material.

And then there are the crabs. I’ve mentioned that I’ve had the smaller ones in my house, but these larger ghost crabs stay mostly on the beach. They’re more commonly seen at night, but on less crowded beaches they will sometimes emerge from the sand during the day.

Usually, they’ll scurry away if you approach them. This one, however, chose to hold his ground, wielding his weapon. Well, he may have had a bit of help, from someone I know, in acquiring his weapon. But the stance is all his.

Enjoy your time here, if you’re headed this way this summer. And if you can, look for the best “news” on the coast: the things, like sea creatures, that rarely make news.

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