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The Other Island Life

The island life is an amazing experience at Topsail. You can relax on the beach, surf on the waves, enjoy great seafood, and have a front row seat for spectacular sunrises and sunsets. You might also get a good view of some of the other life that inhabits Topsail Island, the wildlife that is.

Life Around Topsail Island!

By: Pat Fontana

There are, of course, birds in abundance. Seagulls and pelicans. Terns and egrets. And those loons that line up on the wires over the high rise bridge to watch the sunset every night.

Ever wonder why those pelicans fly so low to the water? It actually helps them fly better, having to do with something called a ground effect. Also, the closer they are to the water, the less drag they encounter.

If you’re in the area close to sunset, check out the loons sitting on the wires above the bridge that connects North Topsail Beach to Sneads Ferry. They are obviously enjoying their gorgeous view of the intracoastal water every evening!

As the sun rises and sets on the island, you may also see some deer, a fox, or a coyote. The deer have been known to swim from the mainland through the sound and onto Topsail. On the beach, you’ll see lots of sand crabs and ghost crabs, after dark and in the early morning hours.

Ghost crabs, according to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, can change colors to blend in with their surroundings so they are difficult to see. They are mostly active at night and can quickly disappear, like ghosts, since they can run up to 10 miles per hour! These fascinating creatures have eyes on the top of stalks that enable them to see 360 degrees. They will dig holes up to four feet deep and then plug the entrance to their burrow during the day.

Ghost Crab

Look out into the Atlantic during the late fall, winter, and early spring months, and you’ll likely see groups of dolphin swimming by our beaches. They may actually be very close to the shore, in fact! Dolphin tend to migrate during the off-season and have even been seen on Christmas Day. What a holiday treat that is!

Topsail Island is a turtle sanctuary and our beloved sea turtles get a lot of attention during nesting season. Starting in May and running through the end of October, sea turtles rule the beaches. Hundreds of “turtle patrol” volunteers walk the entire 26 miles of the island every morning, looking for tracks. Topsail turtles are usually loggerheads, although there have been some green turtles and Kemp’s Ridley turtles visiting the island as well.

The loggerhead will come onshore to lay her eggs several times during a season and then return to almost the same location about every three years. A nest could contain over 100 eggs. Sixty days after the nest is laid, baby turtles will emerge in the early evening hours and make their way to the ocean to start their new lives in the sea. It’s important, as you enjoy your time on Topsail Island, to respect the other island life. Don’t disturb a nesting turtle or a nest that has been laid. Pick up your trash and all your gear when you leave the beach and fill in any holes you have dug for your beach adventures. Topsail Island is the perfect spot for family fun and great memories, for humans and wildlife alike!