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Beach Alert: 7 Dangerous Creatures in Destin, FL

If you Google Destin, Florida, the last thing on your mind will be dangerous creatures. But don’t be fooled. This famous beach town is crawling with them. 

Florida is known for having a long list of dangerous inhabitants. And when you’re distracted by all the fun this Emerald Coast city offers, something might come out and bite you!

We’ve put together a list of Destin’s seven most dangerous creatures to help you stay safe.

Let’s get into it!

About Destin, Florida

Destin is a beachside town located in northwestern Florida. Its emerald green waters and white sand beaches make it a popular destination. Once upon a time, it was a little fishing island. But changing sea levels and hurricanes eventually connected it to the mainland. 

Tourists love Destin for its coastal waters and watersports. People fish, jet ski, paddle board, and spend hours renting pontoon boats. Further activities include dolphin-watching cruises and boating on Crab Island. 

If you’re going to hang out in Destin, you have to love the heat. Temperatures can hit a humid 100 degrees in the summer months. But given that you’re surrounded by water on three sides, most people pay no mind.

Coexisting Safely with Wildlife

One of the most awe-inspiring things people like to do is watch wildlife. And when you’re vacationing in Florida, chances are you’ll see plenty of extraordinary creatures. But it’s crucial to remember to respect their space. After all, we’re merely passengers traveling through their land.

Destin is home to an abundance of wildlife and many endangered species. It’s best to keep your distance, even if they look friendly. An animal approaching you may be ready to attack! Not only that, if you scare them, they may run and abandon their young. There are too many ways that humans can lead to the unwanted deaths of wild animals.

A good rule of thumb is that your safety is your responsibility. Never feed wild animals, as this desensitizes them to humans. After all, we want to coexist with them and not harm them.

Pro Tip: Make a splash at these 7 Clear Florida Beaches You’ve Gotta See.

A group of alligators in the swamps of the Everglades national park, Florida
Florida is full of dangerous creatures.

7 Dangerous Creatures in Destin

Nothing can ruin a day at the beach quite like an unexpected encounter with dangerous wildlife. It’s easy to forget that we share the environment with precarious critters when you’re on a popular beach with your crew. But Destin has plenty of dangerous creatures, so check out our list to learn what to look out for and how to avoid them.

#1 Alligators 

Alligators live all over Florida. They love swamps, marshes, and lakes. You’ll find plenty of alligators in the heart of Destin and nearby Choctawhatchee Bay. And because of their powerful bite, they are one of Destin’s most dangerous creatures.

Ironically, there’s an alligator park right in the center of town. Families love taking their kids to Gator Beach to gawk and learn about alligators. But that doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous! In fact, alligator attacks are more common now due to humans feeding and harassing them.

IN THE NEWS: RV Park Guest Loses Leg in Alligator Attack

#2 Bull Sharks 

Have you seen the movie Jaws? Think of it the next time you want to water ski on Destin’s Gulf Coast. While bull sharks are smaller than great whites, their bite is just as fierce. Plus, they have poor eyesight. So your swimming legs may look like a nice aquatic snack to them.

Although shark attacks are rare, you can take some steps to make them nearly impossible. Avoid swimming at dawn or dusk since this is prime feeding time for bull sharks. And never wear sparkly clothes or anything reflective. Shining a light into the dark waters is an invitation to bite.

#3 Stingrays 

Florida stingrays are like stealth bombs or beautifully deceptive sea aliens. Their flat bodies effortlessly glide underwater, but their long barbed tail delivers a poisonous sting.

These dangerous Destin creatures hide under the sand in shallow water to catch their prey. But the good news is they fear us more than we fear them. Stings only happen when we don’t see them and they’re spooked. So when walking in shallow water, shuffle your feet in the dirt and throw rocks around for further warning.

Stingray swimming
Watch out for the creepy creatures lurking below the water in Destin, Florida.

#4 Sea Urchins 

Sea urchins look like an exploding needle bomb. You don’t want to mess with them, especially since each spike is poisonous. And the more they poke you, the deadlier they get. You may even need surgery to remove them.

These critters enjoy seafloors and live everywhere from tidepools to 200-foot depths. They’re all over Destin’s coasts. The best way to avoid them is to keep your eyes peeled and avoid swimming at night.

#5 Water Moccasins 

Water moccasins aren’t old shoes found in the Florida Bay region. They’re semi-aquatic snakes and nasty ones at that. Also known as cottonmouths, these predators are highly aggressive. Their color even changes to all-black with age. 

Like most dangerous creatures around Destin, water moccasins prefer avoiding humans. Most bites happen when people step on them or intentionally harass them. But if you’re bit, you must go to the hospital immediately. Their venom causes severe pain and difficulting breathing. So watch your step, both on land and when in the water!

Black Widow Spider
Watch out for creepy crawlies while in Destin.

#6 Wild Boars 

Back in the 1500s, farmers brought domestic pigs to Florida, but some of them escaped. Centuries later, the once docile creature is now feral and roams freely across the entire state. 

Wild boars eat almost anything and will charge when they feel threatened. Some have sharp tusks, and all host parasites, such as ticks and worms, which can cause illnesses like tuberculosis and pseudorabies. So, if you see a 300-pound pig ahead, don’t go that way!

#7 Southern Black Widows

Nothing signals danger quite like the black widow spider. This legendary female arachnid is known worldwide for the red hourglass on her back. Especially the southern ones. 

You can avoid spider bites by wearing gloves when handling wood or working in garages or basements. They like rock piles and tree stumps, so use caution when reaching anywhere you can’t see well.

According to legend, female black widows eat their male counterparts shortly after mating. But this only happened in scientific observations where they were kept in small spaces, and it rarely occurs in the wild.

Pro Tip: Spend the night at one of these 15 Best Luxury RV Resorts in Florida.

Is Visiting Destin Worth Braving the Dangerous Creatures?

If you love hot weather and beach adventure, visiting Destin is worth the risk. But we also think this Florida town has more than its fair share of dangerous creatures. And many of them are easy to miss.

Whether you’re lounging on the beach, diving into the crystal-clear waters, or wading through the swamps, you’ll want to watch for the area’s unsavory characters. So have fun but beware!

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