Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sarasota's waterways, a chamber of horrors

I only go into the water under duress, and never very from the shore or boat when I have to. The reason for this is I'm aware of the large numbers of monstrosities that lurk just below the surface of our waters. Locally we have the first sighting of a Pacu, a cousin of the Piranha with a mouthful of very human looking teeth. This fish is known worldwide by names such as the Testical and or Penis eating fish, Nut Cracker and Ball Cutter. Schools of these denizens have been seen in Phillippi creek a stones throw from the intercoastal waterway. 

To be fair to this invasive toothy species I can find no documentation that it has ever chomped any external genitalia, but humans have been bitten by them. If I had to go into these waters I certainly would cover critical appendages. I mean I could live without a finger, but....

I have on more than one occasion seen Alligators swimming in the intercoastal waterway, and on occasion they are spotted in the Gulf of Mexico and can even end up on a beach. We only have a few Burmese Pythons so far in the area, but they can swim in salt water without any problems at all. Sometimes the Pythons eat the Alligators, and other things. By the way have you seen my cat lately?

These mindless gelatinous abnormalities of nature known as Jellyfish are seen all of the time in the gulf, bays, and waterways. Not all of them can sting, but many can, and how would you know slimy blob is which? Do you have your copy of the "Field Guide to North-American Jellyfish" with you at all times? I didn't think so. Avoid these brainless menaces at all costs.

Shellers on Sanibel suffer from the "Sanibel Stoop." In Sarasota we have the "Sarasota Shuffle." We have a lot of Stingrays here of several varieties.

Tourists are advised to shuffle their feet in the sand while they walk in shallow waters. The going theory is if you accidently step on a Stingray you will surprise the crap out of it. Then it takes off like bat out of hell lashing you with the poisonous barbs in its tail as a parting gift.

So let's see now. If you shuffle into one, it will have the crap surprised out of it. It will then take off like a bat of out of hell, and not leave you with its barbed gift? Who wants to be the first in line to test this theory a couple dozen times? I didn't think so. 

Local Toadfish are poisonous freaks of nature. They have hollow spines that inject venom into you and can kill you if eaten. Locally we also have Scorpion and Rock fish with similar characteristics and they're not exactly beauty queens either.

While I'm on the subject the saltwater Catfish is another really bad piece of work also with venomous spines. I learned this lesson early in my life with a visit to the local hospital to remove a broken piece of spine from my badly swollen hand. 

The Lionfish's appearance just screams stay away and for good reasons. When it splays out its fins the spines of extreme pain are exposed. You don't want to touch or step on one of these nasty pieces of work.

Some local sushi restaurants serve Lionfish. I'm thinking I would put this menu item right up there with eating haggis, raw monkey brains and cooked carrots.

Seabather's eruptions. Just the name should give you the willies. This what you get by swimming in water with jellyfish larva.

They are tiny and you can't typically see them. They stick to you, and die when you leave the water and dry out. Dying causes them to automatically fire their venomous little harpoons into you as a final defiant act.

The Hammerhead shark is a dangerous and heinous creature that was no doubt created on Dr. Moreau's Island. What's up with that ugly ass head anyway? One of their favorites foods are Stingrays. As if you really needed another reason you shouldn't be in shallow waters doing the "Sarasota Shuffle" in the first place.

We have Bull sharks, Tiger sharks, Mako sharks and even a couple of tagged Great Whites. They are not picky eaters and are basically large digestive tracks with lots of teeth at the business end. The ones that are tagged have cute names like Betsy and Katherine and they hang out in the hood on occasion. Katherine alone is 14' long and is a svelte 2300 lbs. 

If this hasn't been enough to keep you out of the water then let's add e-coli from rainwater runoff, butt ugly swimming sea slugs, red tide, rip tides, Sea Urchins and sunburn. I have left the most horrifying reason to stay away from the water for last. 

Tourists in rental boats. Oh the inhumanity of it all. Run for your life.

Photo Credits:
The Pacu photo was taken by Wikipedia user Line1.
The Lionfish photo was taken by Wikipedia user Jens Petersen.
The Spotted Rays photo was taken by Wikipedia user Steve Dunleavy.
The Moon Jellyfish photo was taken by Wikipedia user Jeanne Warner.
The Hammerhead shark photo was taken by Wikipedia user su neko.
All other photos are in the Public Domain or taken by the author.


  1. Throw in a few of the locals, and Florida is effectively Australia, a nice, warm spot where everything is trying to kill you.

  2. Rhys, visitng Australia is on my pail list, if Florida doesn't kill me first. We can add to list something that looks like flesh eating bacteria.


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