Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary

Property Location

Edisto Island, SC 29438

Latitude: 32.549  Longitude:-80.181
Acreage: 215
County: Charleston


Property Type: Seabird Sanctuaries

Hours of Operation

Deveaux Bank is closed year-round above the high water line with the exception of a portion on the Seabrook Island side designated for limited recreational use. Seasonal closure of a portion of the intertidal zone (beach) for coastal birds is from March 15 - October 15. Closed areas will be demarcated by symbolic fencing and will occur on the seaward side of the island. The beaches on the ends of the island, facing inland, will continue to be open year round. Dogs and camping are prohibited year-round.


Activities / Facilities

Important Bird Area Nature Viewing

Property Description

Photograph of Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary

Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary was established to protect significant nesting habitat of sea and shorebirds. Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary encompasses approximately 215 acres at the mouth of the North Edisto River in Charleston County. The size of this sanctuary varies and may sometimes disappear entirely. Deveaux Bank is an estuarine island that was first documented in 1921. It has been documented as a seabird rookery since the 1930s. Nesting was temporarily halted during World War II due to the island's use as a bombing range. The island is part of a dynamic system; it completely subsided in 1980 due to erosion from Hurricane David. It has slowly reemerged and seabirds began nesting on the island again in 1983.

The Seabird Sanctuaries are sandspit islands formed by deposits from their associated river systems. The islands are dynamic and shift in position and structure due to erosion and deposition of sand (Aerial Map of Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary PDF). Two plant communities exist on the preserves: intertidal beach and maritime grasslands. The intertidal beach community consists of shifting sand beaches and regularly-flooded mud flats. If present, vegetation is sparse and consists of smooth cord grass, glasswort, marsh hay and sea purslane.

The maritime grassland community consists of unstable sand dunes elevated above the highest flood mark. This community is dominated by Russian thistle and marsh hay, which grow along with camphorweed, beach elder, beach tea and dog fennel.

Deveaux Bank supports colonies of nesting waterbirds because of its isolated nature and lack of mammalian predators. Although all species may not nest on the island each year, examples of species that have used the island include: brown pelican, least tern, royal tern, black skimmer, gull-billed tern, sandwich tern, common tern, laughing gull, Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, willet, great egret, snowy egret, tricolored heron and ibis. Besides providing nesting habitat, the sanctuary provides winter loafing and feeding areas for numerous species, including the federally-threatened piping plover.

The colonial nesting behavior of these birds makes them very susceptible to disturbance. Birds are densely packed into breeding sites during the nesting season, rendering the entire colony susceptible to disruption or destruction. Therefore, the sanctuary is closed year-round above the high water line with the exception of a portion of Deveaux Bank on the Seabrook Island side designated for limited recreational use. Seasonal closure of a portion of the intertidal zone (beach) for coastal birds is from March 15 through October 15. Closed areas will be demarcated by symbolic fencing and will occur on the seaward side of the island. The beaches on the ends of the island, facing inland, will continue to be open year round. Dogs and camping are prohibited year-round.