Do you know…how to both stay safe and keep our wildlife safe?
Seabrook Island is home to a variety of wildlife, some of which are endangered and others which can be dangerous. There are four types of creatures that deserve special attention. On the beach we are home to turtles, dolphins, and birds. In the freshwater ponds and wetlands we have alligators. Our respectful vigilance is needed in order to preserve their habitats.
Maintaining a healthy distance from wildlife is needed both for our safety and protection as well as theirs. The Town Code for Seabrook Island prohibits harassment of marine life and wildlife. To read the ordinance, click here.
Turtle season runs from about May through the end of September. Sea turtles are an endangered species and it is critical not to interfere with them in any way. Please adhere to the following:
- No lights are allowed that illuminate the beach between 9:00 pm and dawn during turtle season. Hatchlings are disoriented by artificial light and may head away from the ocean.
- Do not disturb turtles or turtle nests. The Turtle Patrol will soon begin to monitor the beach, and located nests will be marked with an orange sign and white pole. Please do not disturb them.
- Always fill in any holes on the beach. Turtles and their hatchlings may become stuck when moving between the shore and their nests.
The many volunteers on the Turtle Patrol will be happy to educate the public on the life of loggerhead turtles and the work the Patrol members do to protect them.
The dolphins in our area are known for strand feeding, which is a learned behavior where they push fish onto the beach and then follow to eat them. It is a rare and incredible sight. In fact, National Geographic filmed the dolphins here a few years ago for a program. Seabrook and Kiawah are among the few places where this behavior occurs and we hope you are fortunate enough to witness it.
When viewing the dolphins, follow these guidelines:
- Stay at least 15 yards from the water.
- Do not try to get close to the dolphins; they are wild and unpredictable.
- Do not enter the water or try to swim with the dolphins. It is unlawful for any person to swim in the waters of Captain Sam’s Inlet during the period two hours before to two hours after low tide, and when one or more Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are present in the inlet.
- Do not feed the dolphins; not only is it harmful, but it is also illegal.
Seabrook volunteers who work with the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network will be on the beach during times of strand feeding and will be happy to educate the public about the dolphins and this unusual behavior.
Birds on the Beach
Our beaches are a critical habitat for breeding birds and a stopping point for migrating birds (including piping plovers and red knots). The town’s ordinance prohibits bringing pets into the “restricted area” north of Boardwalk #1. Please obey all signage on the beach and never walk or bring a pet into the restricted area. The restricted area is the red area highlighted on the town’s Beach Rules for Pets Map. Click here to view the map.
NOTE: Beached, injured or stranded animals should be reported to the town, Seabrook Island Property Owners Association (SIPOA) security, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office or the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
Seabrook Island is home to a healthy population of the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), a species once protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Generally, alligators are not a threat to people and their pets. However, the Seabrook Island Property Owners’ Association (SIPOA) has developed a policy for determining whether or not an alligator qualifies as a “nuisance alligator” and therefore warrants removal under the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Nuisance Alligator Program. Removal occurs relatively infrequently. Click here to learn what to do if you have a concern or complaint about an alligator.
To be safe around alligators, remember:
- Do not feed alligators. Feeding alligators reduces their fear of humans.
- Keep your distance. Alligators can run faster than you.
- Do not attempt to move alligators out of the road.
- It is illegal to harass, throw things at or harm alligators in any way.
- Do not disturb nests or small alligators. Female alligators are very protective.
- Keep your pets and children away from alligators.
- Do not corner, trap or hunt alligators.
- Be alert around the shore of freshwater ponds or wetlands.
- If you have a concern about an alligator, call the Security Gate on 843-768-6641.
Property owners should share this information with visitors and rental guests.
(Photo credit: Piping Plovers & Red Knots – Ed Konrad; alligator – nas.er.usgs.gov)
Updated March 2023