MOORE OUTDOORS: ‘Wild Gulf’ teaches lessons

Published 11:46 pm Saturday, July 22, 2017

The summer-long “Wild Gulf” series I have been doing has been personally rewarding and exciting.

By the time this reaches readers I will be home but I have been on the road along the Gulf Coast doing photography, snorkeling and talking with experts on Gulf wildlife at some major facilities.

Here are a few things I have learned from the trek.

  • People Fear Jellies: When pulling up to Orange Beach in Alabama to do some snorkeling I saw that there were hundreds of people on the beach but no one in the water.

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It reminded me of the scene after the first attack in “Jaws” when everyone choose sunbathing over water sports. I asked a life guard and he said there were jellyfish out there.

I went snorkeling and did indeed get a couple of small jellyfish stings but I have seen more jellies on Texas beaches with no panic. I have also seen signs warning about deadly bacteria in the water with folks frolicking in the water with little worry.

Had I seen a bacteria warning sign I would not have entered. This writer fears “flesh eating bacteria” more than jellyfish. And yes I know it can pop up anywhere at anytime in the water but when bacteria levels are up it is a good time to avoid the water.

  • Turtle Marks: It is always sad to see trash long the beach, especially plastics which an be ingested by a variety of marine organisms. While visiting the NOAA sea turtle facility on Galveston Island I learned that many of the little marks we saw on plastic at the beach are from juvenile turtle bites.

I have seen many cups and sheets of plastics with little diamond shaped holes. Those are from small sea turtles and it made me want to get the word out more on the danger of plastics in the Gulf waters. No doubt plastic ingestions kills thousands of sea turtles annually.

  • Mississippi Impact: It is amazing to see the impact of the Mississippi River run-off. The reason we have such murky water on the Upper Coast of Texas is we get a lot of the run-off from the mighty river.

If you go east of the Mississippi the water is clear. From about Biloxi, Miss. on to Florida the beaches look strikingly different than ours with waters that are much clearer.

Even though that water is clearer doesn’t mean people are more aware of the wildlife there. While doing the aforementioned snorkeling expedition at Orange Beach, I kicked up a stingray that was in about 18 inches of water right in front of a bunch of people. I also saw a small redfish and a bunch of juvenile pompano.

Encountering stuff like that is much more fun than sunbathing in my opinion.

  • Whale Sharks: Me and my wife Lisa took a northern detour to Atlanta, Ga. to swim with whale sharks at the absolutely amazing Georgia Aquarium.

Their friendly and informative staff guided us to within inches of their four massive whale sharks along with several large manta rays. Whale sharks are present in the Gulf but sightings are rare. These animals are absolutely stunning with their light tan body decorated with white speckles.

These creatures as we learned have a huge mouth with thousands of tiny teeth that send fish eggs, tiny shrimp and other small marine life down a very small throat.

In the wild they have to swim all day to filter out enough food to survive.

They require a healthy ocean and as we know by tragedies like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Gulf is not always healthy. To think of such a magnificent creature being negatively impacted by our actions serves as a reminder to be kind to our oceans and if you live in Southeast Texas the Gulf is your ocean so to speak.

Let’s all make decisions that benefit sustainable fisheries, promote clean water and allow amazing creatures like the whale shark to thrive in the Gulf of Mexico.

To contact Chester Moore, email him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at