It’s a wild world out there! Whether you choose to explore the animals on Hilton Head Island by land or water, here is a guide to just a few of the creatures you might encounter on your next adventure.
Size: Can grow up to 15 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds
Lifespan: Up to 50 years
Diet: An apex predator that will eat anything, alive or dead, it can get its jaws around.
Fast Fact: To determine the length of an alligator, count the inches between the nose bump and eye bump: that number translates into feet
Great Blue Heron
Habitat: Shallow waters
Size: Grows up to 4.5 feet tall with a 6.5 foot wingspan
Lifespan: 15-24 years
Diet: Fish, crustaceans, small reptiles, small rodents and insects
Fast Fact: Helps keep the alligator population under control by eating freshly hatched baby gators
Habitat: Tidal estuaries and deeper waters off the Atlantic coast
Size: Large sea snails that can grow up to nine inches in length
Lifespan: Reach maturity in three to five years
Diet: Predatory carnivores that eat other hard-shelled creatures
Fast Fact: Protandric hermaphrodites, knobbed whelks start their life as males and turn into females
Habitat: Highly adaptable and found throughout most of the U.S.
Size: Weigh between four to seven pounds and grow as tall as five inches
Lifespan: two-four years
Diet: Opportunistic omnivores
Fast Fact: America’s only native marsupial
Habitat: Found in temperate and tropical waters around the world. Coastal populations often migrate into bays, estuaries and river mouths
Size: 300-1,400 pounds and six-12.5 feet in length
Lifespan: 40-50 years
Diet: Invertebrates, squid and fish
Fast Fact: Local dolphin populations of these animals on our coasts engage in strand feeding, a learned behavior where a group of dolphin corral fish, chase them onshore and then strand themselves on the sand long enough to eat their catch
Habitat: Nest in Lowcountry marshes during the summer months.
Color: White head and neck, light pink wings with bright pink borders and pink legs
Size: Up to 2.5 feet tall with a five-foot wingspan
Diet: Use their large, spoon-shaped bill to detect small fish, invertebrates, shrimp and crabs
Fast Fact: Nest in large colonies with their own species, as well as other wading birds, over water.