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This time of year, the airwaves are full of monster movies and creature features trying to scare you, but on the Forgotten Coast, we don’t have to look any further than the waters of the Gulf of Mexico discover the weird and wacky! Did you know that although oceans cover 70% of the world’s surface, humans have explored less than 5% of them? But even that 5% has proven to be home to some eerie organisms. Here are a few of our favorite freaky fish of the Forgotten Coast:

One creepy resident is also a favorite dish of ours—flounder! This fish may be known for its tasty flavor, but it also possesses a very distinctive profile. In adults, both eyes are on one side of its very flat body. But it gets even weirder: they’re not born that way! Baby flounders have eyes on both sides of their bodies, but, as the fish grows from the larval to juvenile stage, one eye migrates to the other side!

The Sheepshead Fish looks like your average, run-of-the-mill aquarium-type fish. Its black and white stripes are both eye-catching serve as the impetus for their nickname “Convict Fish.” However, their appealing appearance ends when they open their mouths—which contain what look like human teeth! They have many rows of them, too, to help grind up their favorite foods: mollusks and bivalves.

Barracudas also call the waters of the Gulf of Mexico home. Their signature features, such as the protruding under jaw and razor-sharp teeth, are definitely creepy, but it’s their attraction to shiny things that sends shivers up our spines. If you plan to swim in a barracuda’s habitat, be sure to remove all jewelry and watches. The sheen reminds them of their natural prey, and they’ve been known to attack humans, thinking their glittering trinkets are food!

What are your favorite creepy creatures from the deep?

At Resort Vacation Properties, we’re all about accommodating our visitors with the comfiest homes and best beach and bay views on the Island! But, there’s one Forgotten Coast inhabitant that has a home far too small for guests—the sea turtle!

Turtles are one of the most revered and storied creatures in existence. Some groups of Native Americans believed that a turtle even carries the world upon its back. In cultures from other parts of the world, they can represent luck, endurance, and long life. Here on the Forgotten Coast, where many come to nest, we don’t have a particular mythology for them, but they are among our favorite guests. To help you get to know these fascinating creatures, we’ve compiled a list of little-known facts about our friends from the sea!

They’re travelers—and homebodies, too

Sea turtles can travel over 20 miles a day! Their greatest migration, though, is to home—some travel up to 1,400 miles to lay their eggs on the same shores where they hatched.

They navigate using the earth’s magnetic field (maybe)

Sea turtles can detect both the angle and intensity of the earth’s magnetic field. A new theory suggests that they use this ability to navigate, which is how they find their way back to where they hatched after years of being away.

Their sex is determined by outside factors

Unlike most creatures, their sex isn’t determined by genetics, but by outside factors—namely, the temperature of the sand outside of their nest. Warmer temperatures lead to mostly females, while cooler weather typically yields males.

They’re team players

Because it’s almost impossible for the hatchlings to make it out of the nest on their own, the hatching of one triggers the hatching of the rest. Even with all of the babies working together, it can take up to a week to dig out of their nests!

They’re night owls

When the babies finally make their grand entrance, it’s in the dark. They emerge at night and follow the light, which traditionally leads them to the water. Development along beaches has altered this, however, and oftentimes the lights from houses confuse the hatchlings. That’s why it’s important to turn off outdoor lights during nesting season!

They breathe air

Sea turtles are most often associated with their underwater adventures, but they actually breathe air! They’re champs at holding their breath—they can last 4-7 hours when they’re sleeping or relaxing! However, during physical activity, it’s a paltry 2-3 hours at best.

They can be geriatrics

A healthy sea turtle can live to be about 80, with some even surviving to be over 100! That means some of these incredible creatures even manage to outlive the human researchers studying them.

Unfortunately, our sea turtle friends are endangered. To keep the sea turtle population in existence, there are various laws in place to protect them. If you’re lucky enough to witness a hatching, leave the hatchlings alone and avoid using flash photography or any light. It’s important for them to find the ocean on their own, and, as they follow the moonlight to the ocean, other light will disorient them.