Here are some do’s and don’ts while visiting Hilton Head Island:
Never feed the alligators
Death, serious injury and jail time are just a few of the reasons we don’t feed the alligators. Alligators become aggressive when they think food is coming. Feeding an alligator once from a distance can ruin it for someone else.
Offshore shark fishing ONLY
Of course we don’t want to attract sharks to swimming areas. The law prohibits baiting or fishing for shark from the beach and 400 yards or fewer from any shore. There is also no fishing in swimming areas or from the beaches anytime during daylight hours between April and September.
Don’t mess with the natives
The law protects beach-dwelling sea creatures. Hurting, bothering or even picking up the live ones could result in a fine of $500. This includes sand dollars, conch shells and especially turtles!
Speaking of sea turtles, here’s what you need to know:
Never interfere with a sea turtle
The endangered loggerhead turtles lay their eggs in nests on HHI’s beaches. It’s important that tourists and locals alike do their best to keep their impact minimal. Don’t get close to them, shine lights on them, touch them or their eggs, feed them or get anywhere near their nests. You could face up to a $15,000 fine and even jail time!
No lights on or near the beach
Nighttime on the beach is a crucial time for baby turtles and any lights that can be seen from the beach can be fatal to these little guys. When they hatch, they must head directly to the ocean or die. Artificial lights (even flashlights or the flash from a camera!) confuse them, and can cause them to head in the opposite direction. Nesting season is between May and the end of October. If any of your house lights can be seen from the beach, they need to be off or invisible from the beach by 10 p.m. during this time.
If you see something that looks amiss, call the experts
If a sea turtle is injured or dead, or you see a nest that has clearly been tampered with or someone is actively bothering with a nest or a turtle, call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 800-922-5431.
Leave the beach the way you found it
So your sandcastle is your masterpiece. Understood. But this is literally life or death for these turtles. An obstacle on the beach can cause a mama sea turtle to go back to the ocean instead of laying her eggs. Anything left on the beach that doesn’t belong there can cause problems for both mama and baby turtles, so grab every last piece of your gear and trash and fill and smooth any holes you’ve made.