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28 Feb 2023
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14 Unusual and Fascinating Facts About Oak Island Wildlife Better Beach

One of the best things about taking a beach vacation to Oak Island is the abundance of sea and wildlife around the island. It makes for an exciting adventure everywhere you go! The more you learn about these unique species, the more fascinating it is to watch them when you come across them. We thought we’d give you some hopefully lesser-known facts about them to pique your curiosity even more! That way, when you’re on vacation here on Oak Island, you'll know how incredible these animals can be!

1. Loggerhead Sea Turtle

These amazing turtles can navigate through the ocean using a unique trait. They can sense the earth’s magnetic field and use it to find their way to feeding sources and to return to where they nest on beaches. They’re not the only ones. Salmon, sharks, and dolphins can navigate the ocean this way too!

2. Bottlenose Dolphin

Bottlenose dolphins have an unusual way of sleeping. Unlike many of us, they can sleep with just half their brain while the other half stays awake so they can swim, avoid danger, and not drown. This ability is called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep.

3. Blue Crab

If a blue crab gets into a fight with a predator and loses its claw, it can regenerate a new claw. The new claw can often be bigger and stronger than the first and bigger than the other side, giving it a slightly more intimidating look!

4. Sand Dollar

Did you know that sand dollars are animals? When they’re alive, they’re reddish-purple and covered in velvety spines. They live to be about 8-10 years old. What you find on the beach is its skeleton. The five holes you see on the top of them are pores they used to breathe when they were alive. Their name comes from their likeness to silver dollars.

5. Moon Jellyfish

Moon jellyfish rely on their nerve endings to detect their environment because they have no brain, heart, or respiratory system. Jellyfish are actually not even fish but plankton and are in the same family as anemones and coral.

6. Atlantic Stingray

Atlantic stingrays are what are termed electroreceptive fish. It means they have a unique way of sensing and locating prey. They have special sensory cells that can detect electric fields from their prey, which stingrays use to hunt. Their favorite food is species like tube anemones, amphipods, crustaceans, clams, and nereid worms.

7. Common Octopus

Octopuses have nine brains! They have one central brain and one brain for each of their arms. It allows them to move each arm independently. They also have three hearts, and their blood is blue. Two hearts pump blood to their gills, and their third heart circulates blood to the rest of the body. If that isn’t weird enough, they can also camouflage the texture and color of their skin to blend into their environment and communicate with other octopuses.

8. Red Drum

Do you know how the red drum fish got its name? They make a drumming or croaking sound using the abdominal muscles around their swim bladder. They do this to communicate, like during the mating season.

9. Great Blue Heron

Great blue herons tend to nest in trees in “heronries.” These colonies can range from as few as five to as many as hundreds of nests built 100 or more feet up in the trees.

10. Atlantic Menhaden

Atlantic menhaden are also called Fatback, Bunker, Pogie, or Mossback fish. They are an essential food source for many predators and are an important prey species. They are important ecologically because they filter the water and help to reduce algal blooms.

11. Osprey

Ospreys are also known as sea, river, or fish hawks. They can dive into the water at up to 50 mph or more speeds. It makes them expert hunters since they leave their prey little chance! Not to mention, their outer toes are reversible, which gives them a good grip once they catch their prey.

12. Horseshoe Crab

These crabs are a species that has been around for over 450 million years. They are considered living fossils due to their legacy! Their blood is blue, which helps to detect endotoxins in medical equipment.

13. American Oystercatcher

These distinct-looking birds like to open their shellfish by hammering the shells or prying them open with their long bright orange bills. They can even swallow whole clams and mussels. While some of these birds decide to stay year-round in the southeastern states, others will migrate as far as South America!

14. Bluefish

Bluefish can grow to be around 31 pounds and up to 39 inches long. They can live 12 years, and they are voracious eaters. So much so that they have a behavior termed “the bluefish blitz,” which refers to how they can gather in a large school and attack smaller fish. This results in the water agitating in such a way that it becomes like a washing machine! Using their razor-sharp teeth, they will eat anything in their path that they can swallow!

If you’re curious about what a bluefish blitz looks like, you can watch the video below to see how amazing it is! This video, filmed over a decade ago, clearly shows what they mean by the “washing machine” effect!

We hope you loved learning about these fascinating animals as much as we did writing about them. And if you’re looking for the best places to stay on Oak Island, browse our vacation rentals! We offer many beautiful properties, each with its own unique amenities and all styled with fine décor and fully equipped kitchens. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!