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The Stingray ShuffleGetting stung by a stingray is a painful experience and although it's not foolproof, while shelling in the shallow water always do the "stingray shuffle". Shuffle your feet slowly through the sand once you have entered the water. You will then be sending out a series of vibrations that warn a stingray of your presence and provide it the opportunity to move out of your way. If you do get stung by a stingray wash the wound with cold saltwater and then soak the wound in near scalding water, since this breaks down the venom and should alleviate the pain significantly. Medical attention is advisable since the wound should be cleaned to prevent infection and to remove the barb which generally breaks off at im-pact. Apply an antiseptic like Neosporin.Fishing but no chummingFishing is allowed all along Marco's beaches, but for a number of rea-sons it is best to concentrate on areas not popular with swimmers, such as the rocks at south beach, Tigertail lagoon or Sand Dollar spit. Hooks and bathers don't mix well and hooked fish may attract other preda-tors that may also not play well with bathers. Collier County doesn't allow chumming off of its beaches. Local fish are quite accommodat-ing.... if you move down the beach away from swimmers, the fish will move with you!Fill in that hole and leave nothing on the beach except footprints!Believe it or not, Nancy Richie tells us that there seems to be a weird trend toward beachgoers digging large holes in the sand and leaving them when they depart. No studies have yet been commissioned to determine why this trend is occurring. Some scientists believe it could be a result of moats around sandcastles, others believe it could be from archeological digs for Calusa remains and yet others are convinced they result from burying a partner alive who was strong enough to escape! Whatever the true reason, the remaining holes are great hazards to beach walkers and emergency, vendor and sea turtle monitoring vehicles but, more importantly, they can also trap wildlife such as sea turtle hatchlings and shorebird chicks. If you dig a hole during your day at the beach, fill it in when you leave. Also, take all litter home with you and the best advice we can give is to leave just your footprints in the sand. Beach volunteers - here to helpAs you wander along the beach you may encounter one of the many volunteers who act in different capacities to keep our beaches pristine or to educate beachgoers about the wildlife they may encounter. The Friends of Tigertail and the City of Marco Island's beach committee carry out regular monthly beach clean-ups, which are open to anyone who would like to participate. The Shorebird Steward Program has trained volunteers who spend a few hours on the beach each weekend during the nesting season. They share their knowledge on nesting shorebirds, their charac-teristics, habitat and natural history and provide beachgoers opportunities to see the shorebird chicks up close with birding scopes. They are there to help you and to ensure our pristine beaches stay that way for future generations to enjoy.So please always follow good beach etiquette and have a wonderful day on Marco's beautiful, lively and forever changing beach.We'd like to thank Nancy J Richie - Environmental Specialist at the City of Marco Island, Mary Nelson - "the Turtle Lady", and Debbie Roddie, - President of Friends of Tigertail, for their invaluable help in writing this article. All the photos (with the exception of the turtles in a hole, which was submitted by Mary Nelson) were taken locally by Debbie Barker of The Marco Review. From Furry Sand Dollars... continued from page 9192

93 When you're sitting at your desk on a cold winter's day do you ever imagine your-self at the helm of a luxury sailing sloop, the wind in your hair and your loved one(s) at your side? Can you see yourself silently slicing through the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico as the sun melts majestically into the horizon? Yes? Well you're not alone in having this dream and I'm happy to tell you that it can easily become a reality with one call to Serenidad Sailing Charters... Capt Richard and Dina Hamm's gorgeous 2000 41' Beneteau sailboat is available either for private charter, for up to six people, or at low per person rates and the emphasis is on making an experience which is personalized and special just for you. It's a beautiful, well designed, spacious, stable and meticulously maintained vessel with a large, shaded cockpit area complete with comfortable cushions, a roomy forward deck, and an attractively appointed inside cabin with washroom. With all of that at your disposal, there's masses of room for you to move around, or just lie back and completely relax. If you prefer to take a more active role, you're welcome to take a turn at the wheel. Capt Richard is a fully certifi ed sailing instructor with 20 years sailing experience and he's always happy to, quite literally, show you the ropes and teach you to trim a sail. (He also offers group and private sailing lessons at his "Sail Marco" school - www.sail-marco.com.) Daytime scheduled cruises are 3 hours long and Dina, the captain's mate, is always there to provide you with everything to make your trip a perfect one. She'll take photos and e-mail them to you later, provide warm fl eecy blankets to snuggle up in on colder days, fl uffy beach towels to stretch out on in the sun and complimentary ice cold soft drinks. She also offers a deli-cious cheese plate on the 2½ hour sunset cruises and if you'd like to bring any other food or beverage on any of the trips, or would like Dina to organize catering of any kind, that's just fi ne. Capt Richard and Dina are very knowledgeable about Marco Island and its wildlife (ospreys, dolphin and sea turtles are fre-quent sightings) and they'll be happy to share their knowledge with you or, if you prefer, they'll just leave you to enjoy the absolute tranquility of sailing. A romantic sunset or full moon trip is the per-fect backdrop for a marriage proposal or special anniversary celebration. In fact sailing with Serenidad is a great way to celebrate any occa-sion, or no occasion at all except the company of your family and friends. So why not make your dreams come true to-day and call Serenidad at 239-272-0939 or visit their website at www.svserenidad.com? Oh, and don't forget to use the coupon on the coupon page!