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Blackbeard Island

Blackbeard Island, now a national wildlife refuge for a number of endangered and threatened species including American alligators, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, loggerhead sea turtles, Wood Storks and Piping Plovers, was once a hideout for the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as "Blackbeard the Pirate," for whom the island was named. As lore would have it, Blackbeard's treasure was supposedly buried somewhere on the island, although no trace of it has ever been found.

Around 1800, the island was purchased by the U.S. Navy to be used as a federal timber reserve. The live oak trees, which grow abundantly and are indigenous to all the barrier islands, were highly sought after by shipbuilders for constructing wooden naval vessels. Then in 1880, the U.S Marine Hospital Service opened up a quarantine station on the island in response to the yellow fever epidemic of 1876. Vessels bound for ports in the U.S. southern Atlantic were required to report to Blackbeard Island to be inspected and disinfected, if necessary, before being allowed to continue to their intended destination.

In 1914, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order making Blackbeard Island a wildlife preserve. Then, in 1924, the island was permanently established as a national wildlife refuge.

Today, the island's lush green forests, labyrinth creeks, and secluded marshes, where pirates once sought refuge for their illegal activities, offer visitors a new kind of treasure-seeking adventure, including the myriad resident endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna. Modern day adventurers are welcome to visit the island for hiking and bird watching excursions, but no overnight camping is permitted. 

The island can only be accessed by private or charter boat, and to kayak or canoe from Sapelo Island to Blackbeard Island takes about an hour to cross over Blackbeard Creek and marsh.  For more information about visiting Blackbeard Island call 912-652-4415.




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