Tag Archives: stingrays

Discover the Bay Side on Dog Island

Life’s Not Always a Beach. Discover the Bay Side on Dog Island

We walked again, this time to the other side of Dog Island and the dock area where we came in. It gave us a different perspective of the island…and lots of sandspurs.

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We passed private planes and private boats, but we only saw one other person, driving away from the dock.

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Three boats were in. One was the car ferry, and when we returned a truck was parked next to the inn. We’d left the unit unlocked, but the visitors were more interested in the shells on the beach than in my wallet. “Too late!” I wanted to shout. “We picked the beach clean hours ago!”

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Dinner was much better! More dehydrated camping food: Chili Mac & Cheese. The Velveeta cheese I’d brought had gone bad, but we still had half a wheel of Gouda left over from lunch, so I tossed the Velveeta in the trash and chopped off some of the Gouda, and also used the last of the Ritz crackers we’d had for lunch to top off our bowls of warm, spicy chili. We ate on the wood deck, enjoying the cool air as the chili warmed our bellies.

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Just to be on the safe side about finding all the shells, though, we walked again after the people left in their truck, only this time we went in the other direction of Dog Island.

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The wind blew strong during the night, revealing every crack and crevice in the old building known as the Pelican Inn. Its whistle down the breezeway sounded like a child crying for help. Spooky.

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Morning dawned through open windows and we rose just before sunrise. I filled my travel mug with hot tea and grabbed a plastic bag for shells and we headed for the beach just as the sun rose.

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The tide had receded much further out and the shelling was excellent. Private planes flew in and out but the beach remained deserted. When I finished my tea and my bag was full of shells, I went back to our unit and despite the Goodwill-style dishware, I managed to whip together a three egg omelet along with toast and butter (I forgot the jam!). Why does everything taste so much better when you eat it outside? As we ate, we watched dolphin leaping and feeding on fish in the Gulf of Mexico that nearby fishermen couldn’t seem to land.

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Our stay on Dog Island would be ending soon. The sun sparkled and shimmered in the sun, undulating with each wave. Seashells littered the beach, strung out on the sand like scattered pearls from a broken necklace.

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For now, though, we drank in the scenery, pulling it deep in our souls, to save for a later day.

The Beach at Dog Island: Privacy & Seashells

The Beach at Dog Island: Privacy Abounds

Need privacy? The beach on Dog Island is the place for you if you are an adaptable traveler willing to trade luxury for solitude. We enjoyed our time there. A wealth of gorgeous seashells awaited. I collected bags of extra large scallop shells that I turned into spa packages later that year, filling them with fancy soaps and soft washcloth and bath salts/bubbles. I wrapped them up with a big fancy bow. I filled other shells with a small plastic baggie of white sand and tiny seashells and a votive candle…very zen-like! They made lovely hostess gifts. Of course, at the time, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the shells. I only knew they were wonderful and I had to have them.

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We did not see another person all afternoon and evening. We felt completely alone on a castaway island.

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I saw feisty crabs and shy stingrays as well as small seabirds and raccoon tracks.

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I only saw one stingray, but still, whenever I entered the water, I did the “Stingray Shuffle”. Just in case. The stingray is hard to see because of the water’s surface, but if you look closely, you’ll notice the long barb:

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We walked until we lost the light, then turned back and walked in the dark, watching the lightning over the mainland.

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As stated before, the Pelican Inn is rustic. There is a kitchen in each unit, but it is basic. There is no store or restaurant on the island. While the Inn has running water, it is not potable, so drinking water must be carried in.

Unfortunately, during the unpacking of our car, the beer was left behind. My husband wasn’t very happy, but he couldn’t say anything because he’d forgotten his own beer. I pulled one beer out, a can I’d thrown into the cooler, the last one in the fridge, just before we left for our getaway. He took it, happy to have a beer, but still miffed that it would be his last until we left the island. I cheerfully reminded him we had rum and he could have mojitos.

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Okay. He could have rum and coke, too. I felt bad, but there really wasn’t any way to rectify the situation without paying $75 to take the ferry back to the mainland and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Maybe next time I ask if he got everything out of the car, he won’t snap my head off. Or maybe not. Either way, I still love that old dog.

 

 

 

The Gulf of Mexico: Florida’s Shark Tank

The Gulf of Mexico: Florida’s Shark Tank

Do the sharks in the Gulf worry you? They shouldn’t and they usually don’t concern people until the news media swarm in to sensationalize the occasional attack. I’ve even heard of well-meaning people from Indiana who came down and started catching sharks, reasoning that if they culled the herd, there would be fewer attacks. That sounds reasonable to someone from a landlocked state, I suppose. It would probably work, too, if we didn’t have more sharks than Midwesterners.

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Shark bites aren’t a common occurrence, despite the media jumping on every sensational story. Millions swim every day without incident. In our area, there have been exactly 4 bites since 1986. Of course, that’s little comfort if you happen to be one of the four.

Humans are not a shark’s food of choice and most people bitten by a shark find that the shark quickly releases them when they realize they’re not a fish.

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Bull sharks, however, are aggressive toward humans but fortunately for those of us who live along the Gulf, they tend to prefer the waters of the Atlantic.

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There are ways to minimize even the slight chance of being attacked. No, I’m not going to tell you to stay out of the water, although I DO like that billboard sign that says “No sharks in a Blue Aqua swimming pool!”

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The first thing to remember is to avoid swimming at sunset and sunrise. This is when fish eat and the sharks follow the fishies. Don’t swim near fishermen, either. Sharks are attracted to the smell of bait. Take off shiny jewelry and you might want to rethink that shimmery swimsuit, as well as bright colors, all of which remind Mr. Shark of fish scales. Swim in guarded areas. A lifeguard on top of a life station can see for quite a distance and sharks aren’t that hard to spot in gulf waters. If a flag goes up, get out of the water. Sharks can smell one drop of blood a literal mile away. Monthly cycles and open wounds should be carefully considered. Thrashing about in water can mimic a wounded fish, so stop jumping around and acting like a tourist.

Personally, I’m more worried about stingrays than I am about a shark bite, which is less likely to happen than being struck by lightning. So I do the “stingray shuffle” as I wade through water: shuffling my feet instead of taking steps. The disturbance from my feet in the sand is felt by stingrays burrowed in under the sand. Stingrays are quite shy and will swim off if possible, but they have a nasty barb on the end of that tail and they’re not afraid to use it if startled.

Out of all the wildlife danger, though, be they sharks or stingrays, gators or snakes, the most dangerous animal of all is the shark that cruises the Beach Bar on a Saturday night. Run away real fast if you see one.