Unlike skates, Stingrays are dangerous to man. These rays are characterized by long thin tails that are armed by venomous spikes near the body. The spike can be observed here if you zoom in at the base of the tail. This ray was caught at Islanders Beach.
Rays are bottom dwellers, often lying submerged under the sand of shallow waters. It is for this reason that beach goers are advised to shuffle their feet while moving through the water. Better to spook off a ray than step on it a risk the sting.
Deceased Clearnose Skate washed up on Mitchelville Beach. This common skate is characterized by the small spines down the midline of the body.
Burrfish, related to the Pufferfish, but with very obvious rigid spines covering their body. Both share the strange ability to inflate their bellies when threatened, with the sudden change in size and configuration discouraging would be predators.
Moss Animals or Bryozoans are most closely related to mollusks (!), but like the sponges and corals, are colonies of animals (zooids). Bryozoan colonies are found most commonly as growths or crusts on other objects. They cover seaweeds, form crusts on stones and shells, hang from boulders, or rise from the seabed, readily colonizing submerged surfaces. Bryozoans were originally classified as plants, and some such as the Common and Ambiguous Bryozoans can easily be mistaken for seaweed or algae, hence the name Moss Animal.
The Rubbery Bryozoans form gray or brown rubbery, gelatinous colonies that encrust sessile (unmoving) objects, and form branching, shrubby masses. This bryozoan is very commonly found on Sea Whips and is considered a fouling organism. I find this bryozoan very frequently on Hilton Head Island. This was my first exposure to these creatures, and this remains one of my favorite photos. If you look closely at the tips you will also see the presence of Sea Whip Barnacles.
Some of these animals are beloved and some, not so beloved.
But here's the thing: No matter how charismatic they are (or aren't), every single one of these animals is crucial to the delicate balance of our planet's ecosystems, and really, our world as a whole.
So, protect what you don't love, just as fiercely as you protect what you do love. Our world, and its wildlife, thank you.
Happy #WorldWildlifeDay ❤️
Repost from my other IG account @recreationsbyptl because of where I found the shells.
Cockle Shell Pendant Necklace
Beach meets boho style. A cockle shell "wing" smoothed and waxed to bring out the beautiful color is the centerpiece of this statement piece. Glass beads in in various shades of browns, creams, and golds were strung to create the 20" necklace with a lobster claw clasp.
I found this beautiful shell fragment during a Hilton Head Island beach walk.