things that bite and sting at the beach

10 Living Things That Can Ruin Your Day At The Beach (Bites and Stings)

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Has it been a few years since you visited the beach? If so, you likely need a refresher on things you need and how to prepare. You might also be wondering about which sea creatures could harm you.

In this article, I’m sharing 10 creatures that could ruin your day at the beach. Our list includes living things both in and out of the water. In fact, you’re much more likely to be bitten or stung by something on the beach than in the ocean.

Of course, we’ve included sharks. Although they are the largest creatures on the list, you’re least likely to be bitten by a shark.

Smaller, land-based creatures have a much better probability to bite or sting and often you don’t even notice them. Whether it’s as big as a shark or small as a flea, the following list should help ensure you aren’t bit or stung at the beach.

10 Creatures That Can Bite Or Sting You At The Beach

  1. Shark

We all fear sharks. They are the lions of the ocean and they occasionally confuse a surfer with a seal.

Sadly, the predatory habits of sharks have been poorly reflected in the movies and sensationalized by the media. If you’ve watched documentaries about sharks you likely have a better understanding of the creature.

Even though there are hundreds of species of sharks, you only need to be concerned about 3.

  • Great white
  • Tiger
  • Bull

A quick look on the Internet can inform you if these sharks are common at your beach, but even if they are, here’s a stat to remember:

I think you’ll be okay!

  1. Fleas

I would be much more concerned with sand fleas than I would sharks. Sand fleas hang out near seaweed and usually eat decomposing organic material.

They aren’t depended on sucking blood, but if you’re hanging out at a beach and there is seaweed around, chances are there are also sand fleas.

When it’s convenient for them, sand fleas will bite people and leave an itchy welt. After a day at the beach, you may notice a bunch of small welts on your legs or arms. Sometimes they are mosquito bites, but often they are flea bites. Make sure you don’t take them home with you.

  1. Seagulls

Okay, this one is a stretch but seagulls can become aggressive on the beach, especially when food is involved.

If you venture from the sand to the ocean, don’t leave your belongings uncovered. Seagulls have likely been scouting you out from above and if your food is up-for-grabs!

Although most seagulls will scatter if you approach them, some have been known to dive-bomb individuals they don’t like.

  1. Bees

Somehow, and for some reason, bees enjoy the beach. If you’ve ever taken a walk on the shore you’ve likely seen bees on the ground (I guess they landed in the water and are drying off).

You’re most likely to step on a bee while walking to and from the water, however, they might come after your food too. Don’t take honey to the beach!

Recently I went to Laguna Beach for the day and was attacked by a few overzealous bees. At first, I didn’t understand why then I realized I had just applied Burt’s Bees Wax. The bees found the wax and were coming to investigate.

Be careful with perfumes and lip balm!

  1. Jellyfish (sting)

In the water, jellyfish are your biggest concern. Unlike sharks, jellyfish never attack people; they simply drift with the current.

One tip I use to avoid being stung by a jellyfish is to walk the shoreline before going in the water. If there is a reason to fear jellyfish in the ocean, it’s usually evident on the shore.

Currents and tides bring jellyfish to shore and they often wash up on the beach. If you don’t see jellyfish on the sand, chances are they aren’t in the water.

Where there is one, there are usually many! Occasionally you’ll see “blooms” of jellyfish wash ashore. At sea, they are often moving in large groups.

In the United States, you should be aware of the main species and what to do if you are stung by a jellyfish.

  1. Mosquitos

Mosquitos are something to be aware of, however, they are rarely on the beach. Mosquitos need freshwater and they don’t like the wind. So they shouldn’t be at the beach, right? Not necessarily!

Often, there are freshwater lagoons nearby and streams that flow into the ocean. Any nearby standing freshwater is sure to have mosquitos. Before your trip take a look at a map to determine whether you’ll need mosquito repellant.

Tropical beaches with high rainfall often have mosquitos because there is a lot of freshwater.

  1. Sand Flies

In California, there are small sand flies that look like a gnat. These tiny flies are annoying and persistent.

It’s easy to shoo them away however most people eventually give up swatting and the flies land on legs, face, and arms. Sand flies will bite and do suck blood so be careful.

Sand flies usually stay near the sand and where there is seaweed. If there is a slight breeze it will deter sand flies from flying around while you lay out at the beach.

  1. Stingray

Getting stung by a stingray usually occurs when people accidentally step on them while walking in the water. Stingrays have wide, flat bodies and like to rest on or under the sand.

Even if the water is clear, you probably won’t see a stingray under the sand.

At most beaches, there are signs and warnings about stingrays (hotels and resorts usually inform guests upon their arrival). Avoiding being stung is easy: just shuffle your feet in the sand.

Stingrays don’t mind if you disturb them from the side or from underneath, however, they might sting you if they are stepped on (it’s a protection mechanism).

  1. Dog

Do you think adding a dog to the list is strange? The chances of being bit by a dog (pet) at a beach are much higher than being bit by a shark.

Dogs are common at the beach, however, it depends if the beach allows dogs or not. You should know if your beach permits dogs.

Most people love dogs so they won’t worry about being bitten. Be warned: Dogs to bite.

  1. Sea Urchin

Sea urchins are scary to think about but you might be with one type of sea urchin, the sand dollar (yep they are related).

Most people think of the long rigid spines on sea urchins and rightfully so because they be painful when stuck in your foot.

Sea urchins are usually found in rocky water areas where there are hiding places and food nearby. Contrary to popular belief, they are mobile, they’re just slow.

They feed on algae around rocks, dead fish, sponges, and barnacles and their spines are meant for protection. In fact, they won’t stick their spines into you, rather, you’ll step on them and the act in self defense.

Being stung by a sea urchin is painful and it’s important to act quickly and precisely. Here is a video that explains how to treat being stung by a sea urchin.

Conclusion

We’ve just reviewed 10 creatures that could bite or sting you at the beach. Being bit by a shark or stung by a stingray or jellyfish isn’t likely.

Being stung or bitten while sitting on the beach should be of much higher concern. The small pest cause the most problems. Fleas, flies, and bees are active and love pestering people sunbathing (be careful you don’t bring snacks that attract birds and insects).

Hopefully, this article reassures that your trip to the beach will be enjoyable and pain free. Be sure to check out other beach tips on our homepage. Thanks for reading another Beach Life article!