Blackbeard Island | Darien, Georgia
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The Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge is a 5,618-acre National Wildlife Refuge located in McIntosh County. The refuge was established to provide a nature and forest preserve for aesthetic and conservation purposes.
Beaches on Blackbeard Island are for lovers of the wilderness. You can drive to Jekyll Island, and you can take a public ferry to Cumberland Island, but no cheap and easy way exists to reach Blackbeard. And that, for many folks, is the main reason why the place is so attractive. Blackbeard’s nine miles of beaches is used by loggerhead turtles as a nesting site during May and June. Visitors during this season often notice the telltale signs of a loggerhead’s path (like tiny railroad tracks drawn in the sand) leading from the sea to the edge of the sand dunes, where a huge female turtle may have buried up to 100 eggs (visitors should not disturb the nests. Loggerheads are an endangered species).
All of Blackbeard Island has been owned by the federal government since 1800. Portions were logged long ago, but now the island, a national wildlife refuge, is fully protected. The southern third of the island, which encompasses about three square miles, has been designated a wilderness area and is left virtually untouched. Good shells are often found on beaches here during the fall and winter months. The entire island is open to visitors everyday during daylight hours, except for several weekends during late fall, when it is open only to pre-registered deer hunters.
Several charter operators on the coast will arrange boat transportation.
The land that is currently Blackbeard Island originally came from the Navy Department in 1800 in a public auction as a source of live oak timber for ship building. The island was then placed under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Biological Survey to be maintained as a preserve and breeding ground for native wildlife and migratory birds in 1924. A presidential proclamation in 1940 changed its designation from Blackbeard Island Reservation to Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Blackbeard Island is accessible only by boat. Transportation to the island is not provided by the Fish and Wildlife Service. A public boat ramp on Harris Neck NWR (Barbour River Landing) may also be used as a launching site for trips to the island.
The island is comprised of interconnecting linear dunes thickly covered by oak/palmetto vegetation. There are approximately 1,163 acres of open freshwater or freshwater marsh, 2,000 acres of regularly flooded salt marsh, 2,115 acres of maritime forest, and 340 acres of sandy beach.
Wildlife and Protected Species
The main objective of the refuge is to provide wintering habitat and protection for migratory birds. It is also to provide protection and management for endangered and threatened species, such as the loggerhead sea turtle, American bald eagle, wood stork, and piping plover. Notable concentrations of waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, deer, and alligators can be seen at various times of the year.
There is no visitor center at the refuge.
Tagged with: Barrier Islands in Georgia
Georgia Barrier Islands Photos
Photographs of 16 major barrier islands along the Georgia Coast with brief descriptions. Photos are arranged in geographical order north to south. For more detailed information on each island see Barrier Islands In Georgia and the Georgia Barrier Islands Map.