Situated on the south east coast, Georgia has 110 miles of stunning coastline and several barrier islands. These scenic landscapes and the warm waters are a popular attraction for boaters, swimmers, and divers alike. However, although a dip in the sea may be tempting, it’s important to know what dangers lurk in its depths. Although some animals — such as sharks — are a more obvious threat, there are some that you might not inititally realise are dangerous. Read on to discover the most dangerous animals in Georgia’s oceans!
1. Cannonball Jellyfish
Although there are several species of jellyfish which can be found in the area, cannonball jellyfish are one of the most common on the southeast coast. They are sometimes known as the cabbagehead jellyfish and can be distinguished by their dome-shaped bell. The dome can be as wide as 10 inches and is sometimes brownish-colored. Cannonball jellyfish mainly eat zooplankton and their main predators are leatherback sea turtles. Cannonball jellyfish are not the deadliest species of jellyfish but still produce toxins which can cause heart problems in humans, including an irregular heart rhythm.
2. Great White Shark
The first of three sharks on this list is the infamous great white. Great whites can reach approximately 20 feet long and can be distinguished by their white underside and dark-colored upper side. They are considered to be some of the most dangerous animals in the world as they are responsible for more attacks on humans that any other shark. However, despite the common misconception, great white sharks do not typically actively hunt or prey on people. Instead, many experts believe that they simply mistake us for their actual prey, such as seals. Also, sharks have a tendency to bite things to see if they’re edible — known as “bump and bite” as they bump the object with their snout first. Unfortunately for us humans, this “taste test” can be deadly!
Although stingrays are not aggressive animals they are still considered to be dangerous due to the long venomous barb that they have on the end of their tail. There are several species of stingrays which inhabit the water along Georgia’s coast. They are characterised by their disc-shaped bodies, with most around Georgia having an average diameter of six feet. Stingrays are bottom-dwellers and prey on a variety of crustaceans, mollusks, and fish.
Lionfish are some of the most invasive fish in the entire US, as well as being one of the most dangerous animals in Georgia’s oceans. There are 12 species of lionfish and several of them can be found in Georgia where they are invading the coral reefs. They pose a serious threat to native fish as they compete with them for food and breed at a faster rate. Lionfish are also dangerous to us humans due to the venomous spines that they posses on their backs. These spines can easily become embedded in our skin if they are stepped on and, although not typically deadly, their venom can be extremely painful. Lionfish can reach 18 inches long and are distinguished by their bright, colorful markings.
5. Portuguese Man o’War
Another dangerous animal in Georgia’s oceans is the Portuguese man o’war. Although these are often mistaken for jellyfish they are actually marine hydrozoan which is a group of small, predatory animals. Portuguese man o’wars have a body size which is typically up to 12 inches long. However, they also have very long tentacles which can be as much as 100 feet long. The Portuguese man o’war can be found at the surface of the water and moves only by drifting on the tide or by the wind. They have an extremely powerful sting which can leave red welts on the skin for several days afterwards. The toxins produced by it can also travel to the lymphatic system and produce symptoms similar to that of an allergic reaction.
6. Bull Shark
The next shark on the list is the mighty bull shark. Bull sharks reach around 13 feet long but have robust bodies and a bite force of approximately 1,350 psi. Despite great whites having killed more people, bull sharks are typically regarded as being more dangerous due to their highly aggressive nature. Bull sharks are also some of the most unique sharks in the world as they are famed for their ability to tolerate freshwater. In fact, there have been several reports in Georgia of bull sharks being spotted miles upstream in lakes and rivers. They also frequently inhabit shallow coastal waters, increasing the chances of them coming into contact with humans. They are apex predators and eat a variety of fish and marine mammals.
7. Tiger Shark
The final animal on the list is the tiger shark which is up there with great whites and bull sharks as being one of the most dangerous species of shark. Tiger sharks are large animals which can reach lengths of up to 18 feet. They are powerful apex predators with a varied diet and a reputation for eating almost anything that they come across. Tiger sharks live in most tropical and subtropical waters and can often be found in shallow coastal waters. Tiger sharks, along with bull sharks, are some of the most common sharks in Georgia waters.
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