Stingrays Ruin The Day

We went boating the beginning of August and hadn’t been out in a white. Both my son and I had Covid and mine (being older, I’m sure) dragged on and on. The lack of energy was just awful. But… finally we just had to get out on the water.

Unfortunately the tide was high – not my favorite for beach-combing. And there were many, many stingrays! I often see them when the water is this depth, but not this many. They were everywhere!

You never know what you will find in nature, and this area is no exception. It’s part of the fun of exploring the great outdoors.

I don’t know much about stingrays and where they live, but there were some creepy looking black tunnels in the sand. Is that where they hide out? The black would be the deeper sand that was dug up. I don’t usually see these things, so I assume they were made by the stingrays.

As you may be able to tell from my photos, stingrays blend in very well with the sand. At least I could see the bottom in the shallow water, and I would follow my own footprints back to the boat thinking I wouldn’t step on a “stingray house” accidentally. It didn’t mean they wouldn’t swim by!

The Three Sisters Islands is an area we like to visit. It is especially nice at low tide when there is a little canal we follow in behind the islands. It gives us access to lots of sandy places to walk. The water never gets low enough to strand us, and it’s a good place to find unusual sea life.

high tide at 3 sisters
Facing the river

Those stingrays were too much for me though. The fact that many beach-goers had also been stung recently did not help. It was stingray season, it seems.

At low tide this area is sandy and muddy. Boats pull up from the river side and enjoy the “beach”. I did walk around a bit, and was careful to shuffle my feet and try to let any stingrays know I was there. But it was just too creepy for me. I’ve walked among stingrays before and know that sometimes they don’t easily scare off. I certainly did not want to be stung and get a barb in my foot or leg.

We took a ride to another island and took a swim. I did see stingrays here, but could keep my feet off the bottom at least! It was hot… we needed to cool off – haha… in the 90 degree water!

Hewes Redfisher island beach swimming

We went back out boating a few weeks later and I found a living sand dollar on Three Sisters! That was a great day for beach-combing. The stingrays were gone.

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We finally went boating and luckily it was low tide along the river. This is the best time to search the sand bars for sea life. Today, I found a living sand dollar! I believe this is the first time I have ever come across such a thing.

Keyhole sand dollar alive
Live sand dollar!

Because I can’t see in the bright sun when taking my iPhone photos, I take a few hoping that some will be okay. This sand dollar was such a wonderful sight. The color was a purple brown. The bottom had little bristles I could feel. I only held it for a few seconds to get the pictures, then put him back in the same spot.

Later, after I walked away to the deeper water, I saw this sand dollar slowly moving closer to the river. The water was flowing in that direction so maybe he was riding the current. That is good, because if he was beached, he would dry up and die in the hot August sun.

Former Finds in This Area

This Three Sisters area has been especially good for unique sea life sightings – for me. Low tide is the best time to search the area and it helps if the water is warm and fairly clear.

You can see the difference in my photos of the same area at the islands when the tides change.

We visited Three Sisters a few weeks before this and I could barely walk around because there were many stingrays. The water was at just about high tide, which means the sand is covered, but the water is still shallow enough to walk around. I know all about shuffling my feet while walking in the sand here, but sometimes these stingrays are not easily scared off! That was a good day to stay on the boat.

In years past I have found the giant red hermit crab – 2017 (the only one I’ve ever seen), a big living horse conch nearly buried in mud, a big sea star, a tiny sea star, and a friend found an empty, huge horse conch seashell.

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Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home

horse conch big seashell
Horse Conch

Yesterday, while walking the low tide sands around Three Sisters Islands, I came across a big seashell that was empty! I saw a lot of nice crown conchs, small pear whelks, and a nice big sharks eye shell, but all were occupied by hermit crabs. Until I saw the horse conch, all I had collected were bivalves, which were filled with sand, and not living creatures.

I found a giant Atlantic cockle which is joined, so I have two perfect, connected halves, and a pretty flat white shell which I believe is a dosinia.

Dosinia shell

We piled into the Gheenoe – three of us – which was a tight fit, and headed out in the heat to do some fishing and island hopping. Being the middle of the week, we had the river pretty much to ourselves. Since the tide was just beginning to come in, there was plenty of exposed sand to explore.

The only types of shells that are abundant are the clumps of oysters which are the bane of boaters. So finding some collectable shells means searching. It was a 95 degree day (actually cooler than what we’ve been having), and even the water was hot – yes, like a hot tub – but I shuffled around the edges of the island in search of something good that was close enough to see and reach. Continue reading “Found a Big Horse Conch to Take Home”

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