A Field Guide to Spring Break: Cocoa Beach
originally published in The Beachside Resident
Each spring, legions of colorful and exotic species descend upon the beaches of Central Florida to bathe in the warming waves, consume massive quantities of beer, and commence in their yearly mating rituals. This guide will help the naturalist identify various migratory species of Cocoa Beach and surrounding areas during the Spring Break season.
The Day Tripper (Barbaro Orange Countius)
Easily the most abundant of all non-local species, the Day Tripper is ubiquitous in the region throughout the year, but their population balloons during the month of March, consuming whole swaths of coastline. Their vehicles are conspicuous with their polished rims, heavy bass thrums, and baubles dangling from the rear-view mirrors. Males are best viewed from afar, as they will exhibit aggressive behavior towards humans and automobiles while attempting to cross the road, especially while in the thralls of mating. Females are typically ornamented with tattoos on the lower backs, or (in the more dangerous varietals) on the necks or behind the ears. Males mark their territory by urinating on buildings or sidewalks, and are distinguishable by their sneering lips and the trail of litter which accumulates in their wake. Owing to the proximity of their own nests, Day Trippers subsist on a scant diet of cheap beer and cigarettes while beachside. Natural habitat: Minutemen Causeway, The Pier.
The Disney Spillover (Familius Cluelessicae)
Disney Spillovers hail from as far north as Canada and as far west as Kansas. They travel en masse, and are brightly plumed with decorative T-shirts, camera straps, umbrellas, and plastic Ron Jon bags. Be sure to observe slow speed zones at Spillover crossings, as they tend to be discombobulated, and their young attracted to fast-moving vehicles. Mothers usually carry their babies in one arm with the other hand extended behind them, as if seeking out a wayward child. Dazed, agitated, easily burned, the Spillover gravitates toward major intersections. Best viewing spot: corner of 520 and A1A.
The Snowbird (Retirus Traffictera)
The Snowbird hails from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the Great Plains. A roaming species, they travel by RV, van, bicycle, or on foot. Distinctive features include a bluish tint to the head feathers, high, pressed shorts, Panama hats, and wire-rimmed glasses. They travel in pairs and are mostly harmless, except when behind the wheel of a car, when they become the deadliest of all migratory species. They are known to drive against traffic on one-way roads, make slow, sweeping right turns from left lanes, and stick their tails perilously out from medians. Habitat: remote beaches, restaurants, Kennedy Space Center, condo units, local hospitals.
The Kook (Flailos Kookaburra)
The Common Kook bears some resemblance to the local surfer, but is easily recognized by his Volcom stickers, the surfboards strapped backwards or sideways to his car, and the beer cooler rolling behind him as he roams toward the beach. Unlike the local fauna, the Kook will regularly despoil the dune ecosystem, leave waste in parking lots, and give the "stinkeye" to other surfers. Another feature is a milky coloration to the skin. Kooks are generally drawn toward crowded breaks, i.e. the Pier and 2nd Light. When there are waves, Kooks can be seen sitting on crossovers in their neon green tanktops, or struggling in the breakwaters on a pop-out board far too small for their skill level.
The German Tourist (Eccentricus Deutchlandia)
Renowned for their tall, lithe figures, pointed snouts, Speedos, swimming goggles, and reflective white skin (which protects them by blinding potential predators), German Tourists speak in high, garbled voices, and sport a distinctively bizarre swimming ritual, in which they warm up by flapping the arms, then proceed to drown themselves in the shorepound.
The New Jerseyite (Snookius Spraytanua)
More widespread in Pensacola and Daytona Beach, stray groups of New Jerseyites can sometimes drift as far south as Cocoa Beach. The male’s head is uncommonly spiked and gelled, even at the back of the skull. After a 12-pack, his chest will puff out, and he will put on a preening spectacle, barking and prancing. Females are expressive, habitually pugnacious, and are usually considered more dangerous than the males. Best viewing time is early in the day, when New Jerseyites are at their most tranquil. At sunset, they will move inland from the coast, seeking out the revelry and mating havens of the Inner Room or Cheater’s.
The Homeless Salt (Griftae Spareaquarterum)
The migratory Homeless Salt is virtually indistinguishable from the local breed — both are characterized by a reddish color, lack of teeth, heavy beards, lesions, and long, matted hair. The Salt will curl up if threatened, and presents no danger to the casual onlooker. He is the only species not to shed his heavy coat in the warmth of spring. Habitat: the Salt exists at the fringes of major Spring Break hubs, and can also be found enjoying coffee at the local Publix.
The Hot Mess (Drunkus Bikinae)
The Hot Mess appears only in the evening, stumbling along back alleys, or flopping repeatedly onto sidewalks. She is a rare, solitary bird who scorns the need for clothing, and is usually spotted in random stages of undress. Her mating call varies, but might resemble the caterwaul of a coyote. Tattoos typically stripe the lower back or ankles. Approaching a Hot Mess is inadvisable, as her presence can attract hordes of mating Day Trippers, Kooks, and Frat Boys. Proximity can lead to serious injury or even death. Natural habitat: Coconut’s, The Pier.
The Brooklyner (J. Lovium Bootilicious)
Brooklyners travel in familial flocks. Males are recognizable by their glistening faux diamond studs, silver neck-chains, sneakers, and white socks pulled up to mid-calf. Females are typically robust and energetic, with a rhythmic mating dance typified by raised elbows, outthrust rear, and legs bent out wide. They are for the most part amiable creatures and tend to keep in tight packs, with the males engrossed in their smartphones. Habitat: The Pier, Minutemen, Patrick Air Force Base beaches.
The Frat Boy/ Sorority Girl (Frattus Juvenalium)
A distant relative of the Day Tripper, this species differentiates itself from the Barbaro Orange Countius in its more muscular physique, attentive grooming habits (the males often have shaved chests), and paucity of tattoos. They travel with a bevy of coolers, footballs, boomboxes, and beach chairs. While lively and courteous in the morning, after drinking alcohol the males transform into the most malignant of all beach species. Warning signs of such a transformation include a dulling of the eye sockets and a loose swagger, accompanied by a hanging of the hands. Natural habitat: The Pier, Minutemen Causeway.
The Lurker (Sketchus Pervops)
Wiry, with a shuffling gait, tattooed neck, long jean shorts, and a wedge-shaped head, the lurker is a peculiar creature whose habits are mostly unknown. He has never been seen without a cigarette in his mouth or behind one ear. His sneakers are suspiciously new and white. It is advisable to keep a safe distance. Lurkers are known to perch on the dune crossovers for hours at a time, casting malicious glances at parked cars.
The Adventurer (Visitorium Respectus)
The most uncommon bird of all, the Adventurer will do its best to blend in with the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of the seaside town. This camouflaging technique allows it to enjoy Spring Break at the proper speed, free of distress or misfortune. Habitat: varies, but might be seen paddleboarding on the river, lounging at the most serene beaches, or at the local haunts, including, but not limited to: The Green Room, Surfinista, The Fat Snook, Juice & Java, Heidi’s, Quiet Flight, Neilson’s, Fat Kahuna’s, and The Mango Tree.