upland areas of Sapelo Island (and of many of the other barrier
islands) include hammocks dominated by mature live oak, areas of
mixed species maritime forest with an overstory of live oak and
other species of oak interspersed with pine, areas dominated by
pine which were planted during the R.J. Reynolds era, abandoned
clearings in various stages of succession and areas of palmetto,
pine and shrubs. Management practices in the upland areas include
harvesting of pines to thin mature stands and controlled burning
to control underbrush. The
effect of these management techniques on the marshes adjacent to
the uplands has not been studied.
Although the impacts are indirect, the marshes adjacent to
the SINERR uplands are affected by runoff and groundwater seepage.
These effects would be most important in areas where there
is a pronounced elevation difference between marsh and upland, as
along much of the eastern edge of the Duplin River watershed.
freshwater ponds are found on Sapelo Island, although only a few
occur within the SINERR. Almost
any area with fresh or brackish water also has a resident population
The pond near the Marine Institute and the Reynolds Mansion
has numerous small and a few large alligators which can be seen
floating on the surface among the duckweed and emergent vegetation
or on the banks of the small islands in the pond.
The alligators frequently move between freshwater areas and
the salt marsh during the summer, particularly at night.
The upland and dune areas of the island are also populated
diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamanteus),
while the cottonmouth
moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) is sometimes
found near wet areas.
species of birds can be found in the various habitats of the SINERR
and elsewhere on Sapelo Island.
pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), herring gulls
(Larus argentatus), laughing
gulls (L. atricilla) with their distinctive black
gulls (L. delawarensis), and double-crested
cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) are among the
many birds one might see on the ferry ride to and from the island.
(Catoptrophorus semipalmatus), American
oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) and sanderlings
(Calidris alba) are among the many species that frequent
the beaches; black
skimmers (Rynchops niger) can often be seen skimming
the surface of tidal sloughs and near the water line at low tide.
Numerous heron species and egrets can be seen hunting for
food along creek banks, in the marsh and in freshwater areas, with
longirostis) being heard more often than they are seen.
It is not uncommon to see a flock of white
ibis (Eudocimus albus) in the marsh, or an occasional
stork (Mycteria americana), with a distinctive
black edge on the underside of their wings visible when they fly. Various hawk species, black
and turkey vultures
(Coragyps atratus and Cathartes aura, respectively),
(Pandion haliatus) and, occasionally, bald
eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) can be observed
in the SINERR. Yellow-crowned
night herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) and American
coots (Fulica americana) frequent the pond across
from the Marine Institute.
During the summer, the painted
bunting (Passerina ciris) is a spectacular sight
as it flits among the shrubs and trees lining the road to the beach
mammal species can be seen in the SINERR and elsewhere on the island.
Those most commonly seen are white-tailed
deer (Odocoileus virginianus virginianus), raccoons
(Procyon lotor solutus) and opossums
Sightings of feral
hogs are unfortunately becoming more common, as their
population grows from the few that were introduced to the island
in the early 1990s. Armadillos
(Dasypus novemcinctus) also began being sighted on the island
during the 1990s. Feral
cattle, remnants of a herd once belonging to R.J. Reynolds, inhabit
the north end of the island, and occasionally are seen on the south
end. They are reclusive
and cautious, so that sightings are uncommon although signs of their
presence--tracks and fecal matter--are more common sights.