From our guesstimated calculations based on experience and encounters, my magical stuffed bear, Silkworm, and I have concluded there are about 182.3 magical creatures lurking in the waters surrounding Long Island. (It should be mentioned such a high concentration is unusual, and suggests something special about our bays and beaches.) They tend to reside in the Eastern shores more often than those closer to the city, for magical creatures instinctively avoid being witnessed by human eyes, and there are many less pairs toward Montauk and Orient Point. The only human eyes any magic is comfortable being seen by are those of Believers: people who believe in magic. That’s how I was able to befriend a living stuffed bear in the first place, because I’m a Believer myself. It also explains how that bear and I have come to develop an acquaintanceship with several of the 182.3 magical aquatic things, each of which we’ve met at separate beaches we’ve visited throughout the island. To be exact, we’ve met a total of eight magical creatures in the course of more than a year since I met Silkworm. There’s Marcus the Norsarp (some kind of shrimp-like creature that can turn invisible) who came to swim around our feet at Cupsogue Beach on a blustery day when there wasn’t a crowd around. He was the most subtle and unobtrusive encounter. There’s also Cormac the sea dragon (not the ordinary kind recognized by human scientists, but an actual dragon of underwater origin), who showed up once at the beach at Indian Island County Park when we’d gone to see the sunrise early in the morning–and he actually came requesting help on a quest of his. He needed us to follow him underwater, and though Silkworm, being just a stuffed toy, didn’t need to breathe underwater, Cormac had to throw a spell at me that made temporary gills grow on my neck. He’d done a messy spell, though, so the gills used to come back every now and then in the weeks afterward. Then there was Desmond, the outspoken tunneling glow crab we found in the underwater sands of Orient Point. He doesn’t live there anymore, nor anywhere on the North Shore, because the rockiness of the sand kept hindering his tunneling talents. He’s since found the sand on the South Shore to be a lot finer and more appropriate for his lifestyle. We even had the pleasure of meeting Cyril Jack IV, the Guarboba who owns a castle on the ocean floor a few miles out to sea from Montauk, somewhere in between the tip of Long Island and Block Island. His species most closely resembles a whale shark in size and shape, but Guarbobi (the correct plural form) have the most unruly corkscrew-razor-blade teeth you could ever imagine on a monster. Unfortunately, we were never offered an invitation to CJ’s castle, and we didn’t dare ask upfront because, you don’t just ask a Guarboba if they would please show you their hiding place, even if you did say please. Anyway, I can’t say we have a favorite creature, partly because it would be too much like picking one’s favorite child, but mostly because I’d be afraid the others would find out and some kind of complex doom would await us the next time we chose to dip our feet in the ocean. Not to say any of them are necessarily hostile or anything, but they certainly have a deep-seeded loyalty ethic. Aside from face-to-face encounters, we’ve also gathered gossip about the effects of magical creatures living in Long Island oceans and actually witnessed some effects for ourselves. In fact, most humans have, but they’re quick to call such circumstances coincidence or take a more logical scientific approach to explain them. People always find some way to explain things they don’t understand with things they do–but Silkworm and I know better. For example, it’s a very little known fact, even amongst Believers, that when there is a strangely large population of bacteria in the oceans, it bespeaks/indicates the presence of an Oggle, whose smelly skin secretions brew optimal conditions for various species of bacteria to survive and breed in, yet deter the aquatic critters that clean up the ocean. There’s also a brute called a Fishlump, a gigantic thing with a fish-like form but only two slits for a nose–the only feature on its face–who, when drifting anywhere within ten miles of the coast, unintentionally messes with the fragile minds of beach-goers, causing them to get especially feisty and spiteful toward each other. It’s not a pretty sight, but we’ve seen it. There’s even evidence suggesting strong gusts or waves could possibly be the work of something magical, though we’ve yet to work on the case enough to declare anything with certainty. Generally, it’s probably safe to say, anytime there’s something odd and unaccountable going on at the beach, you could most likely, almost surely, draw a line of accountability back to a source of magic floating through the water or sneaking somewhere under its surface. If you wish to search for and meet the magical creatures of our oceans yourself, then you’re going to need to start with a wholehearted belief in anything and everything your eyes have never witnessed. It’s not as easy as it sounds, simply because human brains aren’t very fond of believing without seeing, but if you can find a way to twist that rule backwards in your brain so that having never seen a thing doesn’t necessarily prove it doesn’t exist but rather vouches for the unconfirmed possibility of its existence, then a Believer you’ll be. After that, it’s essentially nothing more than a waiting game–waiting for the creatures to find you–because they’re not easy to search for. Though, fortunately, magical creatures are drawn to Believers, and since there’s so little of us, you’re quite likely to shake the hands, paws, hooves, and tentacles of many. Perhaps a few tidbits of advice would be useful, too. Always be respectful and non-judgmental of magical creatures’ cultures, habitats, etc. When it comes to larger creatures, always let them know what your intentions are before making sudden movements or walking where they cannot see you (if they have eyes at all). Try to keep any creatures who’ve opted to visit you hidden from any Non-Believers, as they don’t like being seen by eyes that don’t believe in them, and such gazes can actually hurt a handful magical species. That being said, thick foggy days when the atmosphere turns to pea soup are a magical creature’s favorite time to pop out of the woodwork to explore. If you have any other curiosities that need answering, you’d be wise to call on the help of Referant, a teeny tiny ant usually found blending in with the workers of ordinary ant colonies. They know everything there is to know about anything; the only trouble is getting it out of them. Happy magic hunting!