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South Carolina Department
of Natural Resources

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SCDNR temporarily closes Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary to protect nesting birds

April 24, 2024

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has temporarily closed parts of Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary to protect coastal birds during the nesting season. This closure occurs annually and is based on bird activity and suitable nesting habitat at the site.

Thousands of brown pelicans have already begun nesting on the island, which sits at the mouth of the North Edisto River. In 2023, Deveaux Bank hosted more than 3,000 pelican nests, which accounted for three-quarters of South Carolina’s nesting pelican population and made it the largest pelican colony on the Atlantic coast.

This week, SCDNR biologists also observed royal, sandwich, least and gull-billed terns and black skimmers flying low over the island, scouting for a stretch of sand to form their nesting colonies. Deveaux Bank often supports more nesting terns and skimmers than any other site in South Carolina, making it one of the most important islands in the region for seabird survival. Seabirds nest on remote beaches that have little vegetation and lay their eggs directly on the sand during spring and summer months from April to July (or to October for brown pelicans).

Seabirds use every part of Deveaux Bank, including the intertidal zone. The wet sandy beaches are essential for successful reproduction and migration, as birds use them for courtship, resting and raising chicks.

In addition to its nesting birds, Deveaux Bank also hosts tens of thousands of declining migratory shorebirds, including red knots, piping plovers and whimbrels, in need of rest and food. Quiet beaches that are free of predators and disturbance are essential to their survival during long journeys to and from their nesting grounds. Shorebirds feed in the intertidal sandy and muddy shoals on invertebrates such as marine worms, clams and horseshoe crab eggs

Due to erosion and overwash caused by storms in 2023, much of Deveaux Bank is now underwater from mid-tide to high tide. Because of Deveaux Bank’s regional importance to many birds of high conservation concern, all of the island, including intertidal shoals, is closed during the nesting season except for the southwest tip of the island nearest Edisto Island. In addition, no dogs are allowed on any part of the property at any time.

SCDNR officials have posted signs on the high ground of the island indicating closed areas. The interior, intertidal sandflats are not able to support signage, but these areas also remain closed to all landing and foot traffic, as they serve as critical feeding and roosting areas for a wide variety of birds. Officials ask the public to abide by the closures shown on the map and report any violations to the SCDNR Law Enforcement Hotline at 1-800-922-5431. Failure to comply can result in fines up to $465 and 30 days in jail (code 50-11-860).

For more information about SCDNR Seabird Sanctuaries, please visit: SCDNR - Coastal Birds in South Carolina - Seabird Sanctuaries.