Wildlife & Nature
The state of Georgia only has about 90 miles of coastline, but it holds approximately one-third of the entire Atlantic seaboard's marshland. This translates into ample and diverse habitat for birds and marine life alike and is a major migratory stop for wildlife. In addition, the large areas of old growth maritime forests on the islands create tree canopies for habitat and make for an absolutely unique and beautiful setting unlike any other on the east coast. These unique settings throughout Jekyll Island, St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Brunswick provide habitats for a wide variety of Georgia's wildlife that you won't want to miss on your next visit.
Marshlands, Intertidal Mud Flats & Tidal Creeks
There is no better proof of the unspoiled natural beauty of the area than the abundance and variety of wildlife which inhabit this coastal low country, yet enjoying them rarely requires ardent searching. In fact, a drive along St. Simons or Jekyll causeways, or most any road that bends near marshlands and tidal creeks, can reveal feeding marsh rabbits in the spring or fall or even great blue herons and majestic bald eagles all year round. The marsh serves as a nursery for the growing fish and shellfish, and the tall marshland grasses provide refuge for many adult animals in estuaries where the area's salt and fresh waters mix.
Take a closer look at the salt marshes at low tide, and find animals such as cockles, whelks, amphipods, lugworms, periwinkle snails and fiddler crabs that feed on the rich sources of food in the intertidal mud flats. Low tide at the edges of the salt marshes is a great time for bird watching. Look out for wading and shore birds like egrets, clapper rails, gulls, oystercatchers and sandpipers that come in to eat the snails, oysters, worms, fiddler crabs or any other floating or crawling animal in this habitat. Go bird watching to spot as many of the 400+ species of birds that can be found in the area!
Coastline, Maritime Forests & Sand Dunes
The Golden Isles offers some of the most pristine coastline and waterway habitats on the Georgia coast. When wading along the ocean’s edge or when near the area’s rivers, one can often see a school of sleek dolphins and formations of pelicans diving for food in the waterways that teem with fish.
Take a dolphin tour, go on a whale watching excursion, or simply relax on the beach to try to spot some of the incredible mammals that inhabit the southeastern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of the Golden Isles. Visit during the wintertime for your chance to see migrating North Atlantic Right Whales that pass through our waters each season. Keep your eyes out for mothers who are migrating to give birth to their calves in the warmer waters!
Though usually seen at night and protected by federal law, Loggerhead sea turtles have, for centuries, found the beaches of the Golden Isles a preferred spot for laying their eggs. Visit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island to get up close and personal with these amazing creatures, and learn how you can help in sea turtle rehabilitation!
Preferring drier habitats to burrow into, gopher tortoises can often be found in the sand dunes on Golden Isles beaches. In addition, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center houses gopher tortoises if you want a closer look.
While not seen as often, but no less abundant, deer, opossums and armadillos inhabit the dense woods of the area. Try to spot some on your next visit!
Finding Golden Isles Wildlife
In this richly diversified land and seascape, activities such as saltwater fishing, sailing, kayaking and birding continue to grow in popularity, contributing to the vibrant coastal economy. Healthy maritime ecosystems provide many sustainable benefits, from tourism to the harvesting of fresh seafood. It is only through the wise stewardship of our richly endowed environment that the special beauty and life of coastal Georgia will be preserved for generations to come.
We hope you enjoy your visit to the Golden Isles and explore the natural beauty that makes this destination unique. Please respect the environment by leaving each area you visit as you found it. Whether you spend time relaxing and playing on the beach or hiking a nature trail, please 'pack out what you packed in'.
Thank you for helping us to keep the Golden Isles beautiful!