With Hilton Head Island being so rich in natural life, it only makes sense to protect it! Here is what you can do to help keep Hilton Head Island beautiful and help keep the wildlife safe:
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! - we tend to be wasteful while on vacation. When you go grocery shopping for the week, keep in mind that there is NO way you are going to go through all of that food in one week. We all try to over prepare for the week, leaving a lot of leftovers by the end of our vacation. The key is to try to be conservative from the beginning to avoid all of the waste at the end of your vacation. Why does this matter? This matters because the more waste we produce, the higher chance of it ending up in our ocean. Imagine how easily it would be for that bag of bread to be snatched up by a raccoon and discarded outside somewhere after the bread has been eaten. Then the wind picks it up, wisps it into the ocean, and a sea turtle thinks it's a yummy jellyfish. That's all it takes, and it is a simple step to prevent this from happening.
- Clean up after others! If you see debris on the beach, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Not everyone respects the beach like we do, so we need to help as much as we can and reduce their carbon footprint for them.
- Clean up after yourself! When at the beach, leave nothing but footprints - be sure you follow the same rules you expect everyone else to follow.
- Be a Blue Boater! Practice safe boating that protects both you and the ocean. Keep a supply of oil absorbent rags, be sure your boat is fuel efficient, use legal bottom paint and biodegradable cleaning agents, avoid discharging toilet waste, secure all items before heading out so they don't end up in the ocean, use fish cleaning stations, or try composting, and do business with eco-friendly marinas whenever possible.*
- Research the seafood you eat. Be sure that the seafood you are purchasing was caught legally with ocean-safe methods.
- Conserve water. Water you save helps to keep clean rivers flowing into the sea.*
- Volunteer to help! Volunteer when you can to help spread the word about the ocean and its environment. The Coastal Discovery Museum is a great place locally to volunteer and help our ocean!*
- Use less plastic. The plastic that finds its way into the ocean never stops polluting.*
- Sail on only ocean-friendly cruise ships! Avoid vacationing on a floating source of pollution.*
- Protect our waters from invasive species! One of the greatest rapidly growing threats to our waters is the introduction of non-native plants, animals and microorganisms. Thoroughly clean you boat hull before traveling a great distance. Don't flush kitty litter down the toilet - cat feces contain deadly pathogens that is one of the main causes of sea otter deaths.*
- Join a coastal cleanup! Protect our shoreline while getting some healthy outdoor exercise.*
- Drive a fuel-efficient car or join a carpool. Tailpipe emissions are a major source of ocean pollution.*
- Don't exploit sea creatures. The ocean and its friends are not here for our amusement. Please do not purchase coral jewelry, or dead sand dollars, starfish, dried seahorses or anything of the like. Sure they are dead now, but they were most likely living when someone came across them and saw dollar signs. Don't purchase dietary supplements made from endangered wildlife, like shark cartilage, coral calcium, turtle oil, or shark liver oil.*
- Keep oil off our shore. We can develop ocean-friendly sources of energy on and off the water.*
- Conserve Energy. Energy conservation reduces the impact of power plants, which can poison ocean waters and fish.*
- Don't shop on the beach! Sand dollars are living things and if you take them, you therefore are killing them. Don't deplete our oceans of sand dollars or other sea creatures to decorate your house.
- Teach your kids about the ocean. Conservation starts with us. Teach the next generation how to be respectful of the ocean and conserve not only for their future but for following generations as well!
What you can do to help Hilton Head stay wild:
- If you see injured wildlife such as birds, turtles, dolphins, alligators and other land mammals please do not harass them or touch them, but you can report them by calling this number: 1-800-922-5431 or you can call Beach Patrol directly at 1-843-785-3494.
- It is against the law to feed dolphins, feed alligators or harass any wildlife which includes taking live sand dollars and starfish from their ocean homes and putting them in your pockets. If you see anyone doing any of these things, please report it to Beach Patrol at 1-843-785-3494.
- To report a dead or injured turtle call: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (24/7): 1-800-922-5431
- To report light violations (if beach front properties have their lights on after 10pm) call: 1-843-341-4642
*Information provided by "50 ways to Save the Ocean" by David Helvarg