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A brown entrance sign that reads Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery under a canopy of live oak and palm trees.
Information icon Entrance to Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery in South Carolina. Photo by USFWS.

Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery

The Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery serves as a part of the Warmwater Fisheries and Aquatic Conservation Program in the South Atlantic-Gulf Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The coastal location of the 31-acre facility along the banks of the North Edisto River in South Carolina provides an ideal site to investigate culture techniques for a wide variety of freshwater, saltwater and anadromous (fish that migrate from saltwater to fresh) aquatic species.

Programs

Bears Bluff’s programs focus on fishery conservation efforts with Atlantic sturgeon, American shad, red drum, and imperiled freshwater mussels, as well as habitat improvement projects related to both saltmarsh and freshwater ecosystems.

Goals

  • Restore and manage interjurisdictional coastal and riverine fishes, such as the American shad, anadromous sturgeon, and red drum.
  • Aid recovery of species listed under the Endangered Species Act, such as the Atlantic sturgeon and American chaffseed, and candidate species such as the Carolina gopher frog.
  • Pioneer and develop culture techniques for both freshwater and saltwater species.
  • Develop hatchery product evaluation techniques.
  • Enhance and restore fish habitat in both coastal and freshwater systems.

Species viewing availability

  • American shad: Most work is performed in the field, but may be viewed at the hatchery as eggs or fry between March and May.
  • Atlantic sturgeon: Can be observed year round. Possible eggs and newly hatched fry available for viewing in August and September.
  • Red drum: Held September to November. Fry are grown out in production ponds and then stocked in surrounding areas. Production ponds may be viewed but the fish are not available for viewing.
  • Carolina gopher frog: Eggs are collected, hatched, and tadpoles are available for viewing between February and July.
  • Savannah lilliput: May be seen on station between May and August.
  • Eastern oyster: Oyster shell collection station is open year round. Reef builds typically occur between May and September
  • American Chaffseed - Can be seen year round

We provide services to:

  • Federal agencies including other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program offices;
  • State agencies;
  • Native American Tribes;
  • Military bases;
  • Universities;
  • Non-governmental organizations;
  • The public.

Public use opportunities

  • Environmental education and outreach opportunities for tour groups and individual visitors.
  • Informational kiosk to familiarize visitors with station and service goals.
  • Remote location with beautifully preserved live oak and Spanish moss habitat provides excellent birding, wildlife watching and picnicking opportunities - for the public.
  • A variety of rare seasonal wildlife can be viewed at the station (wood stork, brown pelican, painted bunting, American alligator, bald eagle, etc.)
  • Self-guided nature tour highlighting the South Carolina Lowcountry ecosystem.
Dozens of students get off of a yellow school bus under a canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss
Students arriving at Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery in South Carolina. Photo by USFWS.

Hours of operation

Admission to the hatchery is free. Self-guided trails are open during open hours of the facility.

  • Open 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed on federal holidays.
  • Informal tours of the hatchery facilities are conducted between 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Groups of 10 or more and special group tours of the hatchery can be arranged by contacting the hatchery office.

Directions

Download directions to the hatchery.

From the south (Savannah, Georgia) via Hwy US 17 N: Approximately 8.7 miles past Ravenel, South Carolina, turn right onto Main Rd/State Rd S-10-20. At approximately 6.5 miles, turn right onto Maybank Hwy. At approximately 2.8 miles, bear right onto Bears Bluff Road. This intersection is marked with a brown sign indicating Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery. Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery is located at the end of Bears Bluff Rd (8.8 miles).

From the north (Charleston, South Carolina) via Hwy US 17 S: Approximately 4.6 miles south of 1-526/Mark Clark Expressway turn left onto Main Rd/State Rd S-10-20. At approximately 6.5 miles, turn right onto Maybank Hwy. At approximately 2.8 miles, bear right onto Bears Bluff Road. This intersection is marked with a brown sign indicating Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery. Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery is located at the end of Bears Bluff Rd (8.8 miles).

From the west (North Charleston, South Carolina/Columbia, South Carolina) via I-526: Travel west on I-526 (toward Savannah, Georgia) from the intersection of I-26 approximately 7.3 miles. Turn Right onto US 17 S/Savannah Hwy. Travel approximately 4.6 miles and turn left onto Main Rd/State Rd S-10-20. At approximately 6.5 miles, turn right onto Maybank Hwy. At approximately 2.8 miles, bear right onto Bears Bluff Road. This intersection is marked with a brown sign indicating Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery. Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery is located at the end of Bears Bluff Road (8.8 miles).

Contact

7030 Bears Bluff Road
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
Phone: (843) 559-2315
Fax: (843) 559-3002
Email: james_henne@fws.gov

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