Tybee Island is just a hop, skip and a jump from Savannah, Georgia – about 18 miles through serene salt marshes. But it seems worlds away from the stately, southern mansions of Savannah’s Historic District to the fun and funky beach culture of Tybee Island.
One of the first things that strikes you about Tybee is its laid-back attitude. We love it! Of course there are tempting restaurants and charming galleries. Add to that a coastal fort, classic lighthouse, and sandy beaches. But we came for the turtles.
“On this uniquely charmed island, nature lovers mingle with movie stars, bird watchers with good ol’ boys. Pirate raids are regular happenings. There are parties of epic proportions and silent beach sunrises. And everyone on Tybee Island, from townie to tourist, watches out for the sea turtles.” –TybeeVisit.com
Tybee Island beaches are important nesting areas for endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtles. They return to Georgia’s Beaches each year from May 1 to October 31. The females come ashore, dig their nest, lay eggs, then head back to the ocean.
The babies hatch in 60 days. Then, with no help from Mom or Dad, they make their way across the beach and out to sea. But because they’re endangered, sometimes they need a little help. Volunteers from the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project conduct daily dawn patrols to check for turtle nesting activity that occurred overnight. When they find a nest below the high tide line they protect it by relocating it, marking off the site, and monitoring it daily.
Prior to the hatch date, they start “nest sitting.” When the ping-pong ball-sized eggs hatch and the hatchlings emerge from the nest, they watch over them as they make their way across the beach and into the sea. After that, they’re on their own.
Tybee also celebrates its “Turtle Love” with the “Turtle Tour.”
In an effort to create public appreciation of both Art and the Loggerheads, local artists created a major public art display of over 20 whimsical, larger-than-life turtles, each with its own unique design. They were placed around the island, then later auctioned to raise funds to support the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.
We fell in love with Tiffany 2 on the porch of the Tybee Community Center, a gorgeous turtle designed by artist Mary Ingalls. Her shell features a tile and stone mosaic of the lighthouse surrounded by the sea.
So the next time you’re down south, head to Tybee for a little “turtle love.”
That brings to a close our Spring Fling across the South – and it’s been glorious! Hope you’ve enjoyed hanging out with us because we sure have enjoyed your smart, fun comments. Next week we’ll take you to a fascinating, often controversial city, that many travelers only pass through on the way to their next destination. But we lived there for a while and made some interesting discoveries. Have a great weekend.
P.S. Here’s a cool fact: The name “Tybee” was one of the top 100 baby names of 2012 in Parent’s Magazine, and “Savannah” is in the top 10!