From the mountains to the beaches, South Carolina is home to an incredible number wildlife that depends on natural habitats for shelter and food. From the spotted salamander to the loggerhead sea turtle, residents and visitors have a responsibility to tread lightly and keep these special creatures safe and thriving.
Everyone can play a role in conservation and protecting the local environment. Here are 5 easy ways we can all protect the South Carolina coastline.
1. Take care of the turtles
South Carolina beaches are popular nesting spots for loggerhead sea turtles. Female loggerheads – which can weight up to 200 pounds – make their way onto the beach to lay their eggs. They typically create their nests at night, digging a hole in the sand with their flippers. During nesting season, volunteer turtle teams will patrol the beach in the morning looking for the telltale tracks left by a mother turtle. Nests located in vulnerable spots on the beach may be relocated and nests are usually marked.
Residents and visitors can help by not disturbing any turtle nests. The hatchlings emerge from their nests between July and October. They usually hatch at night and make their way to the ocean. If you’re staying at a home on the beach, be sure to turn your lights out at night so the tiny turtles don’t confuse a porch light with the moonlight they use to make their way to the sea. And after a day playing in the sand, be sure to fill up any holes that could become an obstacle for the turtles.
2. Protect coastal birds
Audubon South Carolina has launched a “Let ‘em Rest, Let ‘em Nest” initiative to protect shorebirds. According to the organization, beach-nesting coastal birds are among the most threatened of all migratory birds. Of the 51 species that breed in North America, 22 species are declining in population.
Do your part by being mindful of nests and posted signs indicating nesting areas. Use designated walkways to and from the beach and, if you notice a nest, don’t disturb it. Also, don’t let your pets or even your children chase flocks of birds on the beach, which are likely trying to rest and refuel.
3. Stay off the dunes
Beachfront dunes are important for protecting property from damaging storms and beach erosion. Plus, they provide an important habitat for plants and animals. When visiting the beaches, don’t walk or climb on the sand dunes. Use the specific paths and boardwalks that lead to and from the beach.
4. Pack up your trash
Littering does significant damage to local beaches and other natural environments. Always dispose of trash, food scraps and cigarette butts in proper trash bins or pack up your trash and take it with you. Anything you leave behind will be washed out into the ocean. Plastics, such as bags and straws, are especially dangerous to animals that often mistake them for food.
5. Support business that support conservation
Many local businesses are doing their part to protect South Carolina wildlife and nature for future generations. For example, the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, a non-profit created by Palmetto Bluff in 2003, aims to preserve the lush forests and tidal creeks in and around the property. This includes practicing “green” building, offering educational classes and performing research projects on local wildlife. By frequenting establishments who prioritize the environment, you’re able to make an even greater positive impact.
Whether you’re a visitor or a permanent resident, we can all do a little more to help preserve the South Carolina coast so both humans and animals can enjoy it for years to come.
Set within the 20,000-acre community of Palmetto Bluff along the May River Montage Palmetto Bluff provides plenty of ways to appreciate South Carolina’s natural sights, including hiking trails, paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing. In addition, it was recently ranked No. 6 on U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 list of “Best Hotels in the USA.