U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
Banner graphic displaying the Fish & Wildlife Service logo and National Wildlife Refuge System tagline

National Wildlife Refuge

Photo collage of an aerial view of Tybee NWR and two recently hatched least tern chicks.
94 Beech Hill Lane
Hardeeville, SC   
E-mail: savannahcoastal@fws.gov
Phone Number: (843) 784-2468
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
This 100-acre refuge, which began as a one-acre oyster shoal, grew to its current size from spoil deposits made by the Army Corp of Engineers. The small island provides nesti
Gray horizontal line
Tybee National Wildlife Refuge

Tybee NWR was established on May 9, 1938, by an executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a breeding area for migratory birds and other wildlife. Located in the mouth of the Savannah River, the 100-acre refuge began as a one-acre oyster shoal, Oysterbed Island, used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) as a spoil disposal site to support their mandated harbor dredging activity. As a result, the majority of the refuge is now covered with sand deposits. The more stable portions of the island are densely covered with such woody species as eastern red cedar, wax myrtle, and groundsel. Saltwater marsh borders parts of the island.

The refuge is an important resting and feeding area for migratory birds including gulls, terns, neotropical migratory songbirds, and shorebirds. Least terns, black skimmers, Wilson's plovers, and several other shorebird species have nested on the spoil deposits on Tybee. During all seasons, the refuge's shoreline and open spoil deposits are used as resting sites for brown pelicans, gulls, and terns. Endangered species, including piping plovers and wood storks, have been observed on the refuge land, while shortnose sturgeon and manatees have been found in the waters bordering Tybee. With the use of telescopes, birdwatchers observe the refuge birdlife from levees located across the river within Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Getting There . . .
Tybee NWR is located in Jasper County, South Carolina, at the mouth of the Savannah River, directly opposite Fort Pulaski National Monument which is 12 miles from Savannah on U.S. 80. It also lies across the river from the small Georgia town of Tybee Island. The refuge is unstaffed and is administered from the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex headquarters office in Hardeeville, SC. The entire refuge is considered sanctuary for migratory birds and closed to all public use.

horizontal line

The entire refuge is considered sanctuary for migratory birds and closed to all public use.

Recreation and Education Opportunities
Wildlife Observation
Learn More >>

Management Activities
This small refuge located at the entrance to the Savannah River (north bank) is part of Jones-Oysterbed Island and is only accessible by boat. Periodic deposition of dredge spoils from maintenance of the river channel adds new sand to nesting/resting areas for migratory shorebirds. The primary management objective is protection through the use of law enforcement and education/interpretation.