Tybee Turtle Love


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.

Loggerhead hatchling

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.

Teenagers_on_beach_collect_loggerhead_turtle_eggs (1)

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.

Baby loggerhead

Tybee also celebrates its “Turtle Love” with the “Turtle Tour.”


Tiffany Turtle by Mary Ingalls

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.

IMG_0155 - Version 2

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!


Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

46 thoughts

  1. Painted ponies, painted turtles, gypsy queens …it’s been a fabulous tour! The wee turtles are so cute and so fortunate to have their own babysitters.

    1. We sure have had a blast Sue – and saw so many new things. That’s the great thing about travel – no matter how many times you visit a place, it seems there’s always something new to discover. And several of our stops this times were dictated by trying to escape threatening weather! We might not have even made it there otherwise. 🙂 Does that ever happen to you? ~Terri

      1. Terri at this point when we travel our time is pretty limited so we tend to plod through whatever weather appears. However I will say that when obstacles appear, such as getting a bit lost on my bike in Italy, wonderful experiences can happen. I ended up having a lovely conversation with two elderly gentleman in a wee Italian village. I had about 200 words of Italian and they a few of English. Between the three of us and a map. We managed to figure out I wasn’t lost after all 🙂 It’s one of the special moments I remember of that trip. 🙂

      1. I certainly am! I am currently staying in Waldo (the motorhome) in Newport, NH and have been checking out all the area has to offer, everything from covered bridges to an Olympic ski jump moved here from Lake Placid. A friend of mine had been riding me to name the Jeep and it finally happened last week. There are so many unmaintained roads out this way and I can never resist a chance to put the Jeep in 4 wheel drive and get muddy. Since the Jeep is green and likes to play in the mud, I formally dubbed it…”Toad” Seemed fitting!

      2. I just read your post and Newport looks wonderful. I love all the covered bridges. The new name for the jeep is perfect … and easy to remember! 🙂 ~T

  2. We love that laid-back atmosphere, too. And I have a few turtle egg pics I need to share from Pawleys Island where a group patrols the beach each morning, and then moves the nests as they see fit. The whole thing is touching — helping nature preserve its own. Good post, as always!

    1. Many thanks Rusha. We haven’t been to Pawley’s Island … yet. And I can’t believe it. Can’t wait to see your photos. When we lived in St. Augustine, Florida we lived near the beach and it was so fun to follow the turtles throughout the summer. ~Terri

    1. Thanks. I’m always amazed by how tiny they are, but they also seem so much larger than their “ping-pong shells” with all those flippers! 🙂 Are you on the coast and do you have the loggerheads? ~Terri

      1. We visit the NC and South Georgia coast often but I’m in Charlotte! I’ve never seen sea turtles on our beaches – need to do some research!

  3. Animals with amazing designs are my favorite kind of art installation! We have three annual ones that I know of in NC – cows across the Triangle, wolves around NC State University, and bears in Hendersonville.

    1. Very cool Jennie! I’ve seen the Hendersonville Bears, so now I’ll have to check out the cows and wolves – quite an animal kingdom you have there! 🙂 Here on St. Simons Island we have bulldogs (for the university), but since I went to the University of Kentucky I’m quite partial to Lexington’s Thoroughbreds on Parade. ~Terri

  4. Helped with turtles a few times in Mexico. Poor little tykes have a real challenge avoiding everyone who wants to eat them. At least many of them are now protected from two legged predators. –Curt

    1. Curt, It is amazing how many critters are ready and waiting to gobble them up – and I think it’s just as treacherous when they reach the water. No wonder they’re so fast. It’s great to see so many people get involved in giving them a start. ~Terri

    1. Thanks Denise. These mosaic turtles are even more beautiful up close and personal. And some of them are lit from inside (like a Tiffany lamp) so they glow at night. ~Terri

    1. Too funny Bryan! She seems to pop up everywhere, but I would never have guessed that Tybee was her kind of scene. Live and Learn, I guess. So sorry that you missed it because it has a vibe all its own. Hopefully the next time you pass through it will be Miley-Free! 🙂 ~Terri

  5. We should have done our homework when we were near Tybee. I would have loved to see the turtles displayed around town. One day I hope to see loggerhead turtle hatchlings. 🙂

    1. LuAnn, so sorry you missed them. I checked several maps to see if the loggerheads nest as far north as you are, but the results are inconclusive. Some of the people there at the camp might know the answer. The eggs gestate for 2 months so they’re not going to be hatching for a while. There may be some spot on the east coast near you that has nests. Good luck! ~Terri

    1. Allison, that’s a great description! We’ve lived on several of the Southeast’s coastal islands and each one has a character all its own. Do you live in the area or just go there for fun? ~Terri

  6. Tybee one of the top names? Well I never.

    Love your cliffhanger – diving right on to the mystery city now! (The advantages of being a little behind in my reading.)

    Almost finished Spillover, by the way. Hard book to put down – I was up waaay too late last night over it.

    1. I was pretty surprised by the popularity of the name too, Bronwyn. Tybee is a Native American word for “salt” so I guess parents want to say that their child is the salt of the earth … or they just like the way it sounds. 🙂 We thought you’d like Spillover given your background. Lots of food for thought there. ~Terri

  7. Painted ponies of the Outter Banks and Chicago’s Cow Parade come to mind. Of course Tybee Island would do turtles. It makes sense. Thanks for sharing. It was an interesting post.

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