Marine & Wildlife

Marine Life

Sea Turtles

There are five species of sea turtles found in the Gulf of Mexico, and three of these are known to nest on Pensacola Beach: the loggerhead, the green, the Kemp’s ridley and ocasionally the massive leatherback. The vast majority of these nesting turtles are loggerheads.

Sea turtles navigate back to the beaches where they were born in order to lay their eggs, many times traveling great distances. How they navigate across the oceans is a question marine biologists have tried to answer for years. It is believed that they imprint on the beach before they leave as hatchling so they can remember the spot when they return. Returning in the spring, the females crawl onto the beach under the cover of darkness, moving above the high tide line and many times all the way to the dune field so that he nest is not over washed by the waves. The mother turtle digs a nest cavity about three feet dreep and deposits about eggs, returning to the water and leaving them to their fate. Nesting season the length of summer and ends in October.

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a fish swimming under water

Stingrays

Stingrays, and skates all belong to the category of cartilaginous fish. These jawed fish are distinguished by their skeletons, which are made of cartilage rather than bone.

The Gulf of Mexico is home to more than a dozen different species of sharks. Many species are apex predators, at the very top of the food chain. You will also see them in the Intercoastal Waterway(Sound), where you will be boating.

Several species of rays also make their homes in the Gulf. Most rays have flat, disc-shaped bodies and broad, wing-like fins with gills underneath. Many possess unique adaptations, such as a venomous barb on their tail or the ability to produce an electric discharge. Rays and ray-like fishes the manta ray, southern stingray, small tooth sawfish, and Atlantic Guitarfish.

Jellyfish

Jellyfish can be found both offshore and inshore. The Gulf Coast is home to the Portuguese man o’ war, the sea nettle jellyfish, and the box jellyfish. Jellyfish are some of the oldest creatures on the planet, having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years. Jellyfish have tiny stinging cells in their tentacles to stun or paralyze their prey before they eat them, so they are very dangerous.

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