The scary ocean critters of New Jersey’s beaches

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I’m reminiscing today of the time I spent living on the east coast. I essentially made it my bitch, spending every day off from the restaurant I had foraging, exploring, finding new hiking trails, beaches, hidden swim holes, you name it.

A friend came and visited me in Philadelphia for the summer and we spent our time exploring Mother Nature together, one day taking a drive out to Cape May, New Jersey for a day at the beach.

I’m currently living in Hawaii and have yet to see any scary critters or sharks that have made me refrain from getting in the water. But Jersey’s another story. It’s scary, real scary. Not only does it suck to drive there, but their beaches are loaded with the strangest, most fascinating, and in my opinion, the scariest creatures that stop me from diving in head first.

This particular afternoon, we looked around the sleepy beach town that was full of typical posh urbanites pushing around their designer children in their designer clothes. The Victorian houses were beautiful, but I was growing tired of the east coast snobbery and crowds, ready for a reclusive stretch of beach.

My friend Colleen, her boyfriend Ryland and I found Higbee Beach, the perfect little retreat for us. It’s a mile and half long stretch on the tip of Cape Island on the Delaware Bay. It’s actually a former nude beach (leave it to New Englanders to get their panties in a bunch) but the scene remains quiet, peaceful and serene.

“Now this is what I’m talking about!,” I thought when we arrived. Our own little slice of solitude.

Higbee is a bit rough and wild, though and I noticed right away that there were trees jutting out from the water. Beyond that though, it was the site of these massive horseshoe crabs washing up to shore that made me think twice about getting in the water:

Photo by author

As if these horseshoe crabs weren’t enough, (*I’ve actually attended a scientific study on the beaches of Jersey tracing their mating habits in conjunction with the full moon…fascinating, albeit weird*) soon came the HUGE jellyfish. I’ve always had a fear of jellyfish. There’s something about these though that has me singing a different tune about a dip in the ocean:

Swimming? Nope.

Depending on what beaches you frequent on Jersey’s coast, you will surely see these scary ocean critters. I know horseshoe crabs are harmless, but who wants one of those brushing up against their legs during a moment of tranquil floating? Nevermind those ethereal jellyfish. The picture does all the explaining.

Critters used to be my number one ocean fear, but living in Hawaii has taught me about respecting your body and the tides. There’s nothing like getting beat to shit by an undertow/wave combination. Alas, a new ocean fear has arisen in me! What sorts of irrational (or rational!) fears do you have about the ocean?

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1 comments on “The scary ocean critters of New Jersey’s beaches”

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