We love being GREEN!
A few tips...
Being a true native Floridian born in Tampa, I have seen a lot of coastal changes in my 55 years. Awareness from everyone is crucial to our environment, our wildlife, and keeping our beaches pristine. Our coastline has a vast amount of sea life you will be visiting while at our beaches. Some you will see, others you probably won't. From the colorful coquinas ticking your toes as the warm waves wash the swirling and shifting sand from under your feet...to the graceful fever of sting rays gliding underneath the surface, visible from the stillness above...wading pink roseate spoonbills...dolphins jumping and searching the shoreline for schools of fish...jellyfish smacks bobbing along....protected generational sea turtles swimming to shore to lay their eggs in their sand...pilot whales exploring....manta rays flying up in the air....diving pelicans catching fish in their large throat pouches...slow manatees quietly looking for seagrass...horseshoe crabs scurrying...Florida conchs making sand trails on the sand bars...hermit crabs, ghost crabs, blue crabs, stone crabs, spider crabs, rock crabs...octopus hiding...seahorses swaying in the current as they hold on to seagrass to catch a tiny fish...translucent shrimp jumping at night...delicate green sand dollars under foot...and our protected migratory sea birds such as the beautiful black skimmers with their ground nests in the sea oats. All such beautiful creatures! So much to appreciate!
The type of sea turtle on this page is a green sea turtle. These can be seen right here in the Gulf and Intracoastal in Madeira Beach! There are 5 species of sea turtles found swimming in Florida waters and nesting on Florida beaches: Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, Kemp's Ridley, and Hawksbill. All sea turtles, nests, and their eggs are protected. Sea turtle nesting season is May 1 - October 31. Please be respectful and do not disturb or shine flashlights on a mama turtle laying her eggs at night. If you happen to be so lucky to witness this, just quietly watch in the dark at a distance.
With this knowledge, please refrain from the balloon releases into the sky (they come back down in our waters and are ingested by sealife), lighted lanterns in the sky (they also fall back down to pollute), take everything you brought to the beach back with you and leave only your foot prints in the sand, pick up trash you see from others and dispose. This includes beach chairs, beach toys, towels, and canopies. Cigarettes are a huge form of pollution and kill our wildlife! Please dispose of cigarettes intelligently and respectfully and not left covered up in our sand. Please recycle when you can!
Please try to get fishing hooks out of any creature you may hook while fishing and do not just cut the line. Dispose of fishing line in receptacles for that purpose. Pelicans and herons especially try to steal a hooked fish on a line, so be aware ahead of time.
I once witnessed tourists hook a huge manta ray, nearly 4 feet wide, while surf fishing, and then drag the ray up on the shore. Way up on shore. I ran so fast to help this animal and to fix what these people had done. Why take him so far from the water? They were scared of this huge and beautiful animal and had no idea what to do once that they had it far from the water. There was no way I was going to let this gentle creature die from these people (that obviously weren't from around here) being so utterly stupid. First, I removed the hook. Alone, I got on my hands and knees while fully-dressed and quickly lifted the very heavy ray from one side...then I went to the other side and lifted him...back and forth I struggled, getting him closer to the water...over and over I did this until I got him in the water to swim away and survive. All while no one helped and just stood there watching speechlessly. It took absolutely everything in me to be able to scoot this manta back to the water. YAY! This gentle creature swam away! Manta rays do not bite and they do not have a poisonous stinger on their whip-like tail like their sting ray cousins have. They cannot hurt you. Now, with sting rays that do have a poisonous barb on their tail, it requires doing the sting ray shuffle with your feet as you enter the Gulf from the shore to scare them away and to avoid a terribly painful foot gorging! See #2 below in the "tips".
If your children have dug holes in the sand, please fill them back up before leaving the beach for the day. Unfortunately, baby sea turtles and adult sea turtles fall in these holes, get stuck and die. People twist or break their ankles or fall from stepping in these holes. No one expects a large hole when walking on the beach, especially at night! Visitors often do not realize this and just leave dangerous holes. Think about it and how stepping in a hole could ruin your entire vacation or someone else's.
Some very helpful tips:
1. Do not touch, ride, feed, or engage in any way with our protected manatees. Doing so will result in being arrested. It is very serious. Do enjoy watching them from a distance. As enticing as it may be to get close to a manatee or to join in with violators, just remember that someone is recording any interaction and it will be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation. Always does. Dolphins also.
2. Please remember to do the STING RAY SHUFFLE when entering the Gulf. Getting a barb through your foot will definitely slow down your vacation! But don't let that get you worked up with worry or scared to go in the water. Instead of picking your feet up while walking, just shuffle your feet across the sand to scare any that might be buried in the sand close to shore or on sand bars. The shuffling causes vibrations that scare them away! If stung, try to stay still so that your blood doesn't pump harder causing the toxins to travel quicker. Definitely get medical attention. Some can have an allergic reaction. Put your foot in hot water to help relieve the pain. You may feel fire for a whole day.
3. If you fall from a dock, seawall, bridge...do not grab or climb onto any buoys, dock pilings, channel markers, floating docks. You will get severely cut by the oysters and barnacles that grow on these and live in the salt water. They are as sharp as razors. Use extreme caution and stay away from the sea wall edges to avoid falling in. Seawalls are loaded with attached oysters and oyster beds in front of the seawalls. Oyster beds are also in the shallows at the mangroves. Be very careful. They will cut deep and may require stitches.
4. Only certain summer conditions cause prettily colored blue and purple balloon-like bubbles on shore...resist picking up or touching. They are actually baby Portuguese man o' war, a type of stinging jellyfish. They also float in the water, with hanging tentacles, so stay away when you see them.
Sometimes we have "sea lice", which are only jellyfish larvae the size of a grain of sand, and they will irritate mostly when you get out of the water. Scrape your skin with a popsicle stick or credit card to remove. Getting in fresh water only activates them more, as they are triggered by change in salinity. A warm salt water bath is recommended. You can also try vinegar, rubbing alcohol, beer, or wine to rinse off the irritating jellyfish larvae.
5. As a tourist, never get on a boat from someone offering to take you for a ride!! Go to a reputable boat charter company only!
6. Are visitors required to get a fishing license? YES! Florida licenses and permits are required to participate in any saltwater and freshwater fishing activity for those 16 years of age or older. That includes catching and releasing or cast netting. The only time you will not need a license is if you fish from a charter, guide, or party boat where the Captain has a valid recreational saltwater vessel license.
7. The pelicans, egrets and herons are little beggers for fish while you are cleaning caught fish. Feeding these birds the fish carcasses with exposed fish bones is actually killing these beautiful birds. The bones puncture the pouch on pelicans, which then they cannot catch fish on their own and eventually starve to death. The bones also get stuck inside their throats and cut them. Catching whole fish for them is better if you feel you must give them something. Best to just look at the beautiful birds in their natural setting.
8. Live sand dollars are green and extremely fragile. Please gently put the green sand dollars back in the water to live and do not take the green sand dollars. White sand dollars are dead and are often found on the shore, so please only take the white ones.
9. I would not swim at sunset, and definitely not at night. That's feeding time for the sea animals. Blue crabs get pretty pinchy pinchy along the shore at sunset and after dark. Just sayin'!
10. Sea oats are a natural barrier to keep the sand on the beach. Birds make ground nests in the sea oats. Please stay off of any dunes and stay out of the protected sea oats.
I appreciate and value your efforts and your environmental respect to help maintain our clean Florida beaches, to love and protect our wildlife, and all while enjoying your vacation here!
Please use the reusable bags provided to our guests as a gift at check-in when grocery shopping instead of the plastic bags.
Sea you all at the beach!
Miss Sea Green Vacations
Vacations By The Sea