How to Stay Safe in the Gulf Coast Waters
Some aquatic creatures are so stunningly beautiful that flirting with danger may seem worth the risk just to catch a glimpse. Others are so completely gnarled and frightening that seeing them will make you hover on dry land and vow never to dip your toes in the water again.
Here's a look at some of the nightmarish critters that cause the purple 'Dangerous Marine Life' flags to fly on the beaches of south Texas -- and how you can avoid them.
Dangerous Marine Animals Off the Gulf Coast
Ever since the 1970s brought Jaws, people have been terrified of sharks. And while most sharks do reach a size capable of injuries, not all of them should cause concern. If you're in the bays, bayous, or Gulf itself, the most prevalent type of shark attack to worry about is the bull shark. That said, there have only been 34 bull shark attacks since 1911, and only two of them were fatal.
How to avoid a shark bite
- Don't wade with fishing bait
- Stay out of brackish waters
- Obey posted danger signs
Seemingly innocent in appearance, millions of translucent jellyfish crowd the Gulf Coast waters. They are the most common reason for the purple flag to fly. Stings from these creatures can entail anything from a simple gooey smooch to severe pain or even a fatality in the direst circumstances.
If stung by a jellyfish, here's what you should do:
- Leave the water immediately
- Use saltwater to neutralize the stinging cells
- Soak the area in hot water for a minimum of 20 minutes and then remove the tentacles
- Relieve itching and swelling with an over-the-counter cream
- If more severe symptoms appear, immediately go to the nearest emergency room.
For the most part, stingrays are peaceful creatures who cohabit with humans well. It is only when they feel under threat or provoked that they will use a poison stinger attached to their tail. When this happens, expect muscle cramps, stinging, and itching. If left untreated, a stingray's poison can inflict serious injury or death.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼How to avoid stingray stings
There are two easy ways to avoid stingrays: shuffling and throwing. When entering the water where suspected stingrays are, shuffle your feet along the ground. Another easy way to avoid their sting is to toss a rock into the area you wish to swim. Stingrays will usually quickly scatter upon hearing the sound.
For the most part, spending time in the waters off south Texas is a rejuvenating, refreshing experience. However, it's important to avoid trips to the ER by following warning signs and engaging in simple preventative measures.