If you have ever seen Disney’s film “Finding Nemo,” you know that jellyfish are no laughing matter. Upon finding a baby jellyfish, “Finding Nemo’s” Dory decides to name it “Squishy” and keep it as a pet. This lands her in a field of jellyfish, where she gets tangled in their tentacles and is stung multiple times. Here on Hilton Head, jellyfish come through the waters each year, especially after big storms. With a variety of different kinds of jellyfish, it is best to be knowledgeable and safe when spending time on the beach or in the water.

How many times have you walked the beaches of Hilton Head Island and seen a horseshoe crab on the sand? Large and dark, with long pointed tails, multiple legs and flat “book” gills on their underside, they are commonly seen on our beaches, both alive and as skeletons. They are from a very ancient time, and look more like a Frankenstein experiment gone wrong than a modern-day crab; but then, they are not really crabs.

Horseshoe crabs actually are most closely related to spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites, and their ancestors have existed on earth from a time before the dinosaurs, a time when the first fish with jaws appeared in the oceans and glacial melting brought about a significant rise in sea level.

HURRICANE SEASON IS UNDERWAY AND IT’S A GREAT TIME TO MAKE SURE YOU’RE PREPARED.

THE SEASON IS FROM JUNE 1 TO NOV. 30, WITH THE HIGHEST PROBABILITY FOR A STORM STARTING MID-AUGUST AND ENDING LATE SEPTEMBER.

Since 1804, 12 hurricanes have had an impact on the area. The most recent was Hurricane Hugo in 1989. No damage was done on Hilton Head Island, but the mandatory evacuation took an economic toll. Floyd also came close in 1999, but only resulted in a few downed branches (although anyone who went through that evacuation will tell you it was a challenge, to say the least).

Environmental engineer. Devoted parent. Water provider. Aquatic weed controller. Habitat provider. Wildlife manager. Keystone species.

All of the above phrases describe the many roles that American alligators play on Hilton Head Island. Alligators belong to a group of reptiles known as crocodilians, which also include crocodiles, caimans and gharials. Crocodilians are closely related to dinosaurs, but their closest living relatives are birds.

ANIMALS YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE ON AND AROUND HILTON HEAD'S BEACHES

hat's that? It's a question visiting mothers and fathers are asked constantly by inquisitive children during family beach days. Don't lose cool points by answering, "that's a bird, son." Impress your little one with a name and a quick fact about the critter in question. Here is a look at the 18 most common animals you will see at the beach.

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