We have actually left Mustang Island and have continued on our journey, but before I tell you about that, I have more comments to make regarding Mustang Island.
This island has a lot of history. It was named for the wild horses that came here via Spanish expeditions and from shipwrecks. A settlement began but was later evacuated during the civil war when the island was used to blockade Aransas Pass.
After the war, settlers returned and were part of the cattle industry and later offered other goods and services such as turtle, duck and hunting and fishing expeditions. In the 1920s, tourism became the foundation of the economy.
The island is a haven for wild life. It has a well-marked bird sanctuary but the birds don’t know where the boundaries are and you can find them just about anywhere.
We tried to find as many as we could but in the meantime, we saw lots of other critters as well.
The sea turtles are endangered and if you find one on the beach, you are asked to call a special number so it can be relocated safely for their own protection. We only saw a shell, but unfortunately the animal inside was dead. No way to know if it was some jerk or one of the turtle’s natural enemies that did him in.
There are also regular turtles in some of the fresh water ponds nearby the RV Park in which we stayed. They’re pretty friendly so I imagine they get fed a lot…which is a no-no.
And of course what would a beach be without the Portuguese man-of-war. They were named after the 16th-centure Portuguese armed sailing ship because of their resemblance to the ship under full sale. They are actually kind of pretty with their opaque blue coloring, but they have a pretty nasty sting so you don’t want to get too close. In fact they can carry a pretty bad sting even after they are dead and washed up on the beach. A detached tentacle still carries the venom and can also cause pain if touched.
The severity of the sting can last from only an hour or so to all the way up to death. Allergic reactions and side effects can include fever and shock. Heart and lung malfunctions can occur as a result of the sting. So if you see these jellyfish looking creatures on the beach, leave them alone and don’t touch them.
Although we never saw any, there were plenty of warning signs alerting you to the fact there were rattlesnakes in the dunes along the beach. It would not be fun to step on one of those barefoot. (No pictures of these, thankfully never had the chance to take one.)
On our many excursions across the ferry we saw a lot of dolphins swimming around in the waves. Again…very fun to watch.
Getting back to the birds of the island, we saw seagulls, sand pipers and the very-fun-to-watch pelicans. They are not the most graceful bird when it comes to their water landings but they can glide in the wind with the best of them. Most of the time we saw them in flocks but a few ventured off on their own.
Our neighbor befriended a coot that would come right up to them…of course looking for a handout. Interesting bird with black feathers and a white forehead called a shield. They have lobed toes that allow them to walk in soft, uneven surfaces. They like to hang out in the small lakes or ponds as well.
The Blue Herons were fairly abundant wading in the shallow water watching for a fisherman to toss him a bite. They are quite tall standing at around 50 inches and can have a wingspan of greater than six feet. Some of them did not seem to be intimidated by people and therefore allowed you to get fairly close before making their exit.
Fishing for All
Port Aransas, the small village on the north end of the island, is touted as one of the best fishing spots in the country. The catch is not just limited to a few species either. Whenever we talked to a fisherman and asked what he’d caught that day, we’d learn of a new fish. Black tip sharks, red fish, pompano, whiteys, etc. Now I am not an expert, so I cannot attest to the fact that they were actually catching these, but that’s what we were told.
Tarpon fishing is also big in Port “A” as they call it. Even FDR found time to come and try his hand at catching some. The story goes that the first time he brought his own boat and struck out. So the locals took him on a Farley boat (we happen to like that name), which was made right there in town and he caught an abundance of tarpon.
The Farley boats were designed specifically for the rough waters of the gulf and were very successful. They built these boats from the early 1900’s to 1975. They have now started to build them again as part of the museum in Port Aransas.
Our stay on Mustang Island was delightful. The Gulf Waters RV Park was a beautiful park and had everything you want…except good Internet. But they are working on it and hope to have it fixed “any day now”. I believe them because they have a plan. A lot of parks just say that to keep you hoping.
So we end our stay here and move on. Hope you stay with us!