Yield to Wildlife on Your Summer Beach Trip

Spring and summer beach season is upon us! As you plan your vacation, keep these tips in mind to share the beach with nesting birds, sea turtles, seals, sea stars and an abundance of other wildlife.

Sea Turtle on the Beach
Sea turtle in Hawaii donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Brian Kusko.

Give Wildlife Space

As with other wild animals you encounter, observe from a distance and give them space to be wild. Fight the urge to help a sea turtle hatchling toward the sea, cuddle a seal or pick up a sea star.

Seal Pup
Seal pup on coast of Massachusetts donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Steven Corcoran.

Respect Signs

Most sensitive wildlife areas are fenced or have signs posted. Respect those signs and pay extra attention. You may even want to find a different part of the beach to set-up.

Nesting Skimmer and Chicks
Nesting skimmer and chicks in Florida by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Liz Noffsinger.

Don’t Be Trashy

Hopefully you already pick-up your litter when you leave the beach, but it’s especially important near nesting sites. Garbage attracts predators, putting eggs and chicks in danger. The trash itself is also harmful to wildlife. Have a plan to dispose of trash and recyclables.

Grey Seal and Plastic
Grey seal pup among debris in UK by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant John Moncrieff.

Play with Caution

I can’t sit still at the beach for long, I have to play games — frisbee, soccer, biking, volleyball, or bocce ball. These games can easily disrupt nesting sites if we’re not careful. Try to take recreational activities to a safe place that won’t disrupt wildlife.

Tern Feeding Chick
Tern feeding chick in Florida by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Jim Gray.

Responsible Sea Shell Collecting

Shells play a critical role in coastal ecosystems, and sometimes still have living organisms inside. Each beach has its own set of regulations regarding sea shell collecting. If you’re unsure, it’s probably best to leave the shells for other beach goers to enjoy.

Hermit Crab
Some shells may contain living organisms, like this hermit crab in Connecticut. Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Ann Marie Jakubielski.

Keep Dogs on a Leash

This goes for any other pets you may bring to the beach. Be mindful and keep an eye on your pets. We don’t want them accidentally digging up sea turtle or bird eggs!

Loggerhead Hatching
Loggerhead sea turtle hatching in North Carolina by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Jacqueline Orsulak.

Respect Animals in Water

What if a manatee swims up to you and gives you a fin hug? It might be the most adorable thing in the world, but it’s not a healthy situation long-term. We don’t want wildlife getting used to human interaction. Give them the space to be wild and please don’t touch!

Snorkeler in Kahalu’u Beach Park in Hawaii donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Bob Anderson.

Explore Tide Pools

As an Oregonian, exploring tide pools was a huge part of my childhood. It’s still a fun part of my Oregon coast trips. These ecosystems are very sensitive, and require a certain etiquette from visitors. Reminders like, “if you pry, it will die” and “keep it low and let it go,” might be good to review before you go tide pooling.

Photo of sea stars along Cannon Beach in Oregon by Dan Klimke.
This photo, “Sea anemone at Cannon beach, OR” is copyright 2007 by Dan Klimke under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Slow, Slow, Slow Your Boat

Collisions with wildlife are not isolated to the cars. When driving your boat, pay attention and slow down for aquatic wildlife. The animals under your boat will appreciate it.

A manatee nurses her calf in the warm waters of the Three Sister's Spring. Photo by John Muhilly.
A manatee nurses her calf in the warm waters of the Three Sister’s Spring. There are two nipples, one under each armpit. Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant John Muhilly.

Get Outside

Camping in Everglades National Park
Camping in Everglades National Park donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Constance Mier.
Whether rocky coasts or white sands, beaches offer activities for everyone. Camping, fishing, swimming, sand castles, tide pools, whale watching, snorkeling, building forts or bonfires. Get outside and experience all the beach has to offer!

Button_Pledge-to-Camp_2015_150x26_OrangeSee how much good you can do for wildlife when you pledge to camp out this summer as part of our Great American Campout!