Children on Beach with Turtle NestOne of Hilton Head Island’s first residents arrived in a remarkably designed and sturdy mobile home. The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), with its heart-shaped carapace, or shell, found our tropical climate and soft, sandy beaches to be the ideal nesting place. Its solid house, a protective exterior shell that covers most of its body, also functions as a float that allows the turtle to rest its flippers and enjoy the refreshing waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. 

One loggerhead sea turtle is a 35-year-old Hilton Head Island native. It’s early May, and she is finally feeling mature enough to start her own family! After mating at sea, our familiar coastline calls her home, and she is drawn back to Hilton Head’s pristine shore to lay her eggs in…

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Indulge in the well-preserved, natural beauty of Hilton Head Island’s breath-taking ecosystem because a friendly smile is contagious, especially when it comes from a dolphin! Whether you look up, down, right, or left, the circle of life surrounds Hilton Head Island with lush landscaping, carefree animals, and abundant sea-life. Set your watch to island time, breathe in the fresh outdoor air, and uncover nature’s finest!\

KayakIn the Water  

A scenic water excursion on a kayak, paddleboard, or boat lets you discover a habitat swimming with life! You don’t have to travel far off the coast of Hilton Head to see a loggerhead sea turtle, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, or even a huge manatee surface for a quick breath. Although a dolphin can hold its breath…

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A BEACHFRONT HOME FOR SAND DOLLARS, STARFISH, and JELLYFISH 

Strolling along the soft sandy beaches in Sea Pines, Forest Beach, Palmetto Dunes, or other beaches in Hilton Head Island, you may find some buried treasures that are extremely valuable!  Low tide is an ideal time for a beach walk as the coastal beach expands and small tidal pools form. Marine life flourishes in Hilton Head’s well-protected oceanfront, and it is a natural home to sand dollars, starfish, and jellyfish, yet, as you will discover they are not quite what their names imply!  

SAND DOLLAR

Its actual value exceeds a genuine dollar because the interesting details of an eccentric sand dollar are priceless!  Close yet brief observation of this spiny skinned disk’s underside will…

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SHARK TEETH 101 AND THE ORIGIN OF SEASHELLS
Soft, glimmering sand covers Hilton Head Island’s picture-perfect beach, yet, unlike some coastal beaches, rugged, there is only a gentle sprinkling of seashells along the Atlantic shoreline beaches of Palmetto Dunes Seashells
and Forest Beach. The island is a sandbar system, and shells tend to collect plentifully towards the tips of the island. South Beach in Sea Pines or at the opposite end at Mitchellville Beach Park, Burkes Beach, and Port Royal Beach are avid seashell collector’s ultimate destinations!

Every 12 hours, as the tide washes in, it uncovers a once buried layer. Hilton Head Island’s beach renourishment and dredging to preserve the beautiful shore opens the possibilities of exciting and valuable…

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During May through October, Hilton Head Island excitingly welcomes hundreds of sea turtles each nesting season!

For this reason, we ask our residents and visitors to help protect this endangered species. 

In a perfect setting, with ideal conditions, Hilton Head Island’s most common marine turtle, the loggerhead, comes ashore about every 18 days during nesting season. She lays 80 to 120 eggs into a freshly made nest nearly two feet deep. Under the warm, dry sand, the round eggs incubate for an average of 50 days.  The two-inch hatchlings dig together to travel to the surface of the nest. The newborns rely on their instincts, moonlight, and even magnetic fields to guide them. They squirm, crawl and wiggle as quickly as their new little flippers will…

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FAR FROM CRABBY: HORSESHOE CRABS, HERMIT CRABS, AND GHOST CRABS 

Hilton Head Island is a natural habitat for eleven different crabs and a few marine animals that share the crab’s name. Each refreshing walk on the beach brings discoveries that are fascinating to observe. Horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and ghost crabs happily reside along the shoreline, yet the only thing they have in common is their name and address.  

HORSESHOE CRABS

horse show crabsThis ancient marine animal looks frightening but is harmless.  The firm tail, called a telson, is not used for defense; its telson can flip it over or help with stability. Your nose will let you know if the horseshoe is deceased or if it is an empty shell. A juvenile will molt its outer shell, the exoskeleton, 15-16…

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Darkness fades as the golden rays of the sun angelically illuminate a sea turtle’s incredible tracks, temporarily imprinted through the sand crystals on Hilton Head Island’s beach.   Early risers can experience nature at its finest as the majestic sunrise signals the beginning of a new day filled with hope. Between May and October, beachgoers may have the pleasure of discovering the distinctive tracks left from a sea turtle’s crawl to and from her nest. Hilton Head is fortunate to have four out of seven species of turtles documented in our area.

The best way to see a spectacular turtle nest is to walk along Hilton Head Island’s sandy beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. You can find this protected turtle nest in Palmetto Dunes Resort. 

The endangered…

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