By Land, Sea, & Air: The Wildlife of Hilton Head Island
Whether you decide to embark on a water-based activity or a land-based adventure, Hilton Head Island is absolutely packed with native wildlife and beautiful vegetation. This allows visitors to get up-close and personal with many of the island’s natural inhabitants, both of the animal and plant varieties. Here are just a few reasons why you should take time to explore Hilton Head’s beautiful landscapes and wildlife attractions with your friends or family.
Hilton Head Island is in a word, beautiful! The island is home to many trees and native vegetation which isn’t found up north. From huge live oaks, beautiful Palmetto trees, to a wide variety of pine trees, Hilton Head, South Carolina has a unique flora all its own. In addition to miles of beach, the Island also contains several marshes and inlets which provide a home for many of our local wildlife friends.
Hilton Head Island is perfect for exploring the wildlife, lagoons, marshes, and inlets which can be accessed by boat, kayak, or even paddle board.
If you are a bird watcher, you are in luck! There are literally hundreds of different types of birds that you can observe throughout the island. Beaches, golf courses, marshes, trees, harbors, and docks are just a few of the places that provide a perfect and natural sanctuary for these birds.
One of these native birds is an Ibis, a long-legged bird which is often found on the Island’s golf courses. With its long legs, distinctive white color, and a long curvy beak, it’s hard to miss this one. On the beaches you can find one of our most popular inhabitants, the sea gull. These guys love to feed on the beach or in the nearby the water. If you watch them closely, you might even get to see them feeding on oysters. What makes this special is the sea gull’s innovative technique. First, they take an oyster high in the air and drop it on the hard sand. Then they simply chase down their feast before other sea gulls try to steal it.
There are also many varieties of sea gulls on the island, but one of the most distinctive ones is the Laughing Gull which makes a sound similar to a human laughing. Needless to say, this is an extremely interesting sound from a bird which usually prompts laughter from everyone who gets to see it.
Brown Pelicans are an amazing sight as well. These birds are known for their dive-bomber-like fishing technique. First, they circle high above the water and watch carefully for fish below. When they find one, they quickly dive into the water to catch their prey. It’s quite a sight if you’ve never witnessed these birds in action. When it comes down to it, Hilton Head Island’s wildlife is a must-see attraction all in itself.
Turtles are one of the many animals that you can find on and around the island, mostly sunning on the banks of lagoons or ponds. The ones that you will most commonly encounter are the Yellow Bellied Sliders, distinctive for their yellow colored body parts. You might also spot the Diamond Back Terrapins. If you are able to get close enough, you can even count the number of “diamonds” on its shell, which can tell you how old it is.
Of course, we can’t forget about the Loggerhead turtle. Growing up to four feet in length, and 400 pounds, these turtles are some of the biggest out there. Cautious by nature, as soon the Loggerhead turtle senses your presence, it will most likely dive out of site. Loggerhead turtles are on the list of endangered species that are protected by federal law.
As some of the nature’s most popular inhabitants, alligators can be found in the lagoons and ponds around the Hilton Head. Some of the islands alligators can grow up to 12 feet and normally do not pose a threat to humans unless they are provoked, so be very careful not to approach or feed these creatures, since it’s illegal.
If you take an Alligator Tour at H2O Sports, you will be able to observe these beautiful creatures from a safe distance and admire the sight that they present. Since alligators are cold blooded, they must use the sun’s heat to warm up. In warmer weather, they normally remain in the water, regulating their body temperature. In cooler weather, you might find them sunning on water banks to raise their temperature. Alligators provide a thrilling sight, and are one of Hilton Head Island’s main wildlife attractions.
Are you ready to go on a dolphin spotting expedition? A Dolphin Tour is just what you need. These tours let you to explore the island’s waters in search of these beautiful and intelligent creatures. Dolphins, often mistaken for fish, are a sight that no Hilton Head visitor should miss. Watch them as they swim around the islands waters or near your boat. Observe as they use their clicking sound and the echo it creates to locate food and other dolphins.
Dolphins are known for their clicking, squeaking and whistling sounds as they use it for communication. These mammals can grow up to 12 feet and weigh in excess of 800 lbs. A Kayak Tour is another great way to get close to dolphins and see just how friendly and curious they are about their human visitors.
Although less popular than alligators or dolphins, manatees provide a wonderful sight. Growing up to 10 feet and weighing up to 1000 pounds, they are some of the island’s largest visitors. Although Manatees may be huge in size, these are some of nature’s most gentle mammals. Their diet consists of aquatic plant life and small fish. Spotting these slow moving swimmers is a task requiring patience. Trust us when we tell you that it’s worth it.
As you can see, there is plenty of native wildlife and fun activities to try on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Ready to see what real fun is all about? Reserve your tours or rentals today by calling us at (877) 290-4386 or by visiting our website at h2osports.com