The Most Wonderful Wildlife on Sunset Beach
If you are visiting Sunset Beach from another part of the country, you might be curious about the wildlife you see during your vacation! Barrier islands have their own unique ecosystems because of their network of inlets, sounds, rivers and creeks flowing from the ocean.
Here are a few we find interesting:
Nesting Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Named for its very large head, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle is a threatened species that loves to feed on shellfish in coastal bays and estuaries. They nest along the North Carolina coast, including at Sunset Beach! Click here to learn more about the Sunset Beach Turtle Watch program and what you can do to protect these amazing creatures.
The Osprey is an impressive bird of prey, often found sitting in a precarious nest built on a pole, channel marker or dead tree in the middle of the water! You can spot an osprey from the ground due to the distinctive "M" pattern their wings make as they fly. Large birds, these falcons weigh an average of 60 lbs.
Alligators are quite common along the North Carolina coast so definitely stay alert when exploring swamps, streams and ponds! There have even been sightings of alligators in the surf along Sunset Beach, although such an event is rare since they are freshwater reptiles.
If you stare at the ocean long enough, you are sure to catch a glimpse of a dolphin pod cruising by! The most common species in our area is the Bottlenose Dolphin. These carnivorous mammals are voracious eaters, eating enough to achieve a length of up to 14 feet long and a weight of 1,000 lbs!
Learn the difference between dolphin and porpoise.
Ghost Crabs & Fiddler Crabs
Kids love to hunt for these evasive little sand-dwellers! Most are under 2 inches wide, and they are best spotted after the tide goes out. Ghost crabs are nocturnal, so bring a flashlight after dark to find them. Look for little holes in the sand, and when you find one crab you are bound to find many because they live in a group.
This list is just the beginning. You are sure to also spot Laughing Gulls trying to steal your picnic, a washed up jellyfish on the beach, and a cute green anole (lizard) hanging outside your vacation rental! Take photos of these cool creatures of the Carolina Coast. They are all part of your experience while staying at Sunset Beach!
which critters have you spotted on vacation?
Share them with us!