Beach Wildlife

What wildlife will I see at the beach?

You will be sharing the beach with an amazing array of other creatures who call it home!

  • Shorebirds such as sanderlings, willets and plovers
  • Other birds such as pelicans, gulls, terns and skimmers
  • Ghost crabs and sand dollars that burrow into the sand
  • Mammals such as the cottontail rabbit that live in the dunes
  • Sea turtles from the ocean depths that nest on our beaches

We all love watching these creatures and want to help protect them and the beach we all love!

How can we help protect our beach and wildlife?

Avoid walking or taking a bicycle or other wheeled vehicle through the dunes.

Most dune plants have roots very close to the sand's surface that are easily killed by foot traffic. Once roots die, sand begins to erode. Use only existing paths or dune walkovers to access the beach.

Do not store anything in the dunes.

The action of dragging boats, chairs and other objects in and out of the dunes kills plants and causes dune erosion.

Animals are such fun to watch — from a safe distance!

Do not try to feed any of our wild creatures. It can change their normal behavior, and make them lose their fear of humans and be aggressive when food is not given. They may also begin to rely on humans solely for food and stop looking for it in their habitat.

Anything you take onto the beach, take off with you when you leave for the day.

Many of our beach access points have recycling bins for plastic and aluminum.

  • Cigarette butts can be disposed of in the garbage cans at these locations.
  • Pieces of plastic and cigarette filters on the beach are often eaten by birds, and plastic bags and balloons that blow from the beach into the water are often mistaken by sea turtles for jellyfish and eaten.
  • Shade canopies, beach chairs and other "beach furniture", either standing or blown down, can become obstacles for female sea turtles coming in to nest or baby sea turtles emerging from their nest and moving to the ocean. Entanglement in these items can be deadly.

Everyone loves to build sand castles!

When the fun is over, fill in holes and return the sand to its smooth condition. Holes can be death traps for baby sea turtles or cause an evening walker/runner to injure themselves.

If collecting shells, carefully check to see that the shell is empty!

If collecting shells, carefully check to see that the shell is empty!

Dead Sand Dollar in the sand
What a Dead Sand Dollar Looks Like
  • Check shells to be sure that they are not occupied; if they are, return them to the sea.
  • Sand dollars are relatives of starfish and are an important part of our beach ecosystem.
    • Their burrowing in the sand brings oxygen for other organisms that live there, and they serve as food for large starfish and others.
  • Help us protect sand dollars and other beach organisms by never disturbing or collecting living beach critters (it's our law!).

If you fish from the beach, do not to leave fishing line on the beach.

  • Entanglement in fishing line is common for birds and may result in the loss of a leg or death.
  • Anything that you catch that you're not going to eat should be immediately released back to the sea.
  • If fishing at night, remember that lights disorient sea turtles and are not allowed on the beach from May 1st - October 31st after 10 pm.

Dogs on the beach should always be leashed or under voice control.

Refrain from chasing our shorebirds!

Refrain from chasing our shorebirds!
It causes them to use a lot more energy than they normally would, and may leave them with little energy for reproduction and migration. Walk or ride around birds on the beach.