What to Know Before Heading to Galveston Beach: Sea Creatures and Water Safety Risks

Ballinger News Staff

Before heading to Galveston Beach, beware of these sea creatures, safety risks in the waters

HOUSTON – Hello from a fellow Houstonian! As we brace for another intense summer, we can already feel the heat and humidity that Texas is known for.

It seems to get hotter every year—or is it just me getting older? Growing up, I wasn’t much of a beachgoer, but many Houston transplants are eager to cool off and sink their feet into the sand. However, before heading to Galveston, it’s essential to know what might be lurking in the waters. Over the years, some unusual and interesting creatures have washed ashore.

Here’s what to look out for at Galveston Beach:

Yes, there are sharks in those murky waters. Common species include bull, hammerhead, tiger, and blacktip sharks, with Atlantic sharpnose sharks being the most frequent in the Gulf of Mexico. Most shark bites in Galveston are “hit and run” incidents, where sharks mistake humans for fish and swim away after a bite.

Snakes – But Not Much in Summer
You might encounter snakes on the beach during winter when they leave their nests to soak up the warmth of the sand. Rattlesnakes find the dunes perfect due to the warm sand, hunting grounds, and protection from humans. If you see a rattlesnake, don’t panic. Stay at least 5 feet away and alert park staff.

The Portuguese man-o-war is the most dangerous stinging jellyfish in the Gulf. Recognizable by its purple float and dangling tentacles, its sting can be relieved by lifting the tentacle and dousing the area with saline solution. Even washed-up jellyfish can still sting, so avoid touching them.

Stingrays are common in shallow waters and can sting if stepped on. Their sharp shaft requires careful, often surgical, removal. To avoid them, shuffle your feet while wading.

Venomous Blue Dragon
The Blue Dragon, a type of sea slug, is rare but was spotted on Texas beaches in March. If stung, you’ll know immediately.

Rip Currents
Rip currents are a significant hazard, causing more deaths annually than shark attacks. These powerful channels of water flow away from the shore and can overpower even strong swimmers. Learn to spot rip currents and always check the beach warning flags with the Galveston Beach Patrol before heading out.

Possible Fecal Contamination
Galveston’s water may not be crystal blue, but the color isn’t due to fecal contamination. However, a 2022 study found that 55% of beaches nationwide experienced at least one day of unsafe contamination levels, with the Texas coastline at 90%. Check for bacteria levels before swimming.

Heat and Sun
Protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, even on cloudy days. Wear a high SPF sunscreen, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, a hat, and sunglasses. Stay hydrated with non-alcoholic, caffeine-free liquids to prevent dehydration.

Sand Bars, Troughs, and Holes
Hidden deep spots in the surf can be hazardous, especially for children. Powerful waves can create holes near the shore that are several yards wide and at varying depths. Sand bars offshore can also be misleading; the water between the shore and the sand bar might be over your head. Swim carefully and know your limits.

Stay safe and enjoy your time at the beach!

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