The coastal wildlife you get to see during your Ocean Isle Beach vacation is truly one of the highlights of this beautiful area that many species of animals, birds, and sea life call home on the North Carolina coastline. With such a diverse ecosystem, you never know what you may see on any given day: dolphins frolicking offshore, shorebirds soaring overhead, sea turtle nests on the beach, and the list goes on and on. Today we’re talking about the best ways to enjoy all of that nature has to offer while respecting the place that all of these creatures eat, play, sleep, and live. Here are some helpful wildlife tips to know and review with your family before your OIB vacation.
Respect the coastal habitat
Everywhere you go in Ocean Isle Beach is a habitat for something. Just like humans, animals all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, water, and space to survive. Be mindful of that during your vacation, and you’ll be just fine. Respect is a two-way street. Respect the habitat and the wildlife that call this area home, and this will reduce disruptive encounters with them.
Observe from a distance
As mentioned above, it’s important to remember that all creatures need their space (and in varying degrees depending on the type and size of the species) to feel comfortable as opposed to stressed or threatened. It’s best practice to leave creatures as you find them in their natural habitat, look but don’t touch, and tread carefully by being careful of where you step and what you touch. You can always use binoculars or take photos with a zoom lens for a closer look.
Refrain from feeding the wildlife
While it may be tempting to throw the seagulls a snack while you’re on the beach, it’s not good for them or for you! That goes for all wildlife you encounter in Ocean Isle Beach. It’s nice to share your food with family and friends, but not the wildlife. Let the native critters find and eat the food that is natural for them—so that they can stay healthy and not start to associate or depend upon people for food that isn’t meant for them anyway.
Collect only non-living seashells and sand dollars
Shelling is a popular pastime for residents and vacationers alike. Be sure to take a peek into that seashell before you put in your bag or bucket to take back with you to your Ocean Isle Beach rental. If there is anything living in there, put it back and search for an uninhabited one instead. The same goes for sand dollars. If they’re washed up on the beach and no longer alive, you can collect them. But if they’re in the water or on the beach and still living, leave them be. (Not sure how to tell if it’s alive? Click here to learn more.)
Follow the fishing licensing rules
If you’re going fishing on the beach, off the pier, or by boat, read up on the licensing requirements, species size and limitations, and other important information before starting your angling adventure. The NC Wildlife Commission has a lot of great information on its website about everything you need to know about fishing in North Carolina. You can also read more about fishing in Ocean Isle Beach here.
Do not disturb sea turtle nests
We talk a lot about sea turtle nesting season and what you need to know about it during your Ocean Isle Beach vacation here on our blog. What’s most important to know is to leave any marked and unmarked sea turtle nest untouched, don’t disturb any mothers or hatchlings you encounter on the beach, minimize artificial light (flash photography, flashlights, outdoor beach house lights) during nesting and hatching season, and fill in any holes you dig in the sand.
Keep your pets leashed
Keeping your dogs on a leash serves two purposes: it protects your pet while also protecting the local wildlife. It’s also important to note the OIB pet regulations before your stay in our dog-friendly vacation rentals.All dogs must be on a leash, contained, or fenced at all times. Dogs are not allowed on the beach strand from 9am to 6pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day, nor at any time in the Ocean Isle Beach Public Accesses or Parking Areas.
Leave nothing behind but your footprints
This is a popular saying and for good reason. This is wonderful etiquette for all natural areas, the beach included.Always carry your trash to the nearest garbage can. It’s extra helpful if you can also pick up litter you find, even if it’s not yours. If trash cans are overflowing, please take your trash back to your vacation rental and dispose of it properly. The Town of Ocean Isle Beach rules require all beach equipment to be removed from the beach strand on a daily basis and placed at least ten feet from any sea turtle nest (cannot be seaward of the nest) or dune vegetation.
Review the Town of Ocean Isle Beach rules & regs
Last but certainly not least, it’s very helpful to review the local beach rules here before you arrive so you know what to expect—and save yourself the hassle of bringing things you can’t use anyway. Talk with your family about them as well, so everyone can be proactive. We appreciate all that our visitors, vacationers, and residents do to keep OIB the barrier island paradise that we all know and love. Thank you and enjoy your time with nature!
For more helpful NC wildlife tips, visit the National Park Service website for additional advice on how to respect wildlife wherever you may be visiting.