Jekyll Island, Georgia; By Blair & Dawn Witherington

Posted In Beach of the Month, Features

By Blair and Dawn Witherington

Jekyll Island is a 12-kilometer long ark meeting the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Georgia coastline, southeastern US. The island is an exquisite exemplar of coastal processes, both geological and human-influenced.

The north end of Jekyll is sinking. Although sufficient open sand remains at low tide, each high tide brings the Atlantic into the maritime forest of live oak and slash pine. The result is a boneyard beach scattered with a skeletal testament to coastal change.

A little farther south on Jekyll, the ocean washes up at the feet of human endeavor. There, tides advancing on beachfront buildings and parking lots have compelled human intervention in the form of granite revetments dumped onto the beach. It’s more difficult to walk on and comparatively less picturesque that the adjacent, stately, ghost forest, but the rocky battleground does offer its own interesting philosophical instruction.

The dynamic drift of sand that has impoverished Jekyll’s northern beaches has fattened the island’s southern shoreline, where tall dunes front a maritime forest of salt-spray-tortured bonsai-shaped oaks. The line of dunes stretches south, ending at a broad sandy fan at the island’s southernmost tip. The expanse invites resting seabirds and provides living space for a splendid variety of imbedded marine animals. Some of these are visible at low tide, and others exclaim their presence only by their skeletal remains—the knobbed whelks, baby’s ears, shark eyes, and other shells prized by collectors of beach-trip souvenirs.

Jekyll Island is among the most easily accessible of Georgia and South Carolina’s “sea islands,” many of which are strikingly beautiful and similar to the landscape occupied by the Native American Guale people who persisted for hundreds of years as frequent coastal visitors. These folks were vanquished by European conquest and assimilation, rather than by natural forces. The winners of this cultural battle now occupy Jekyll Island and other laboratories of coastal change. Amidst some messy experimentation, there remains some beautiful scenery and wildlife.

Living Beaches Of Georgia And Carolinas, By Blair and Dawn Witherington


More / Beach Of The Month

Te Pito O Te Henua shore (Rapa Nui or Easter Island): a remote and mysterious place with rare beaches; By Nelson Rangel-Buitrago, William J. Neal & Adriana Gracia

April 1st, 2018

One of the most remote and youngest inhabited volcanic islands in the world is Te Pito o Te Henua Island, or as more commonly known: Easter Island (Rapa Nui or Isla de Pascua). World famous for its mysterious monumental statues (moai) erected by the early Rapa Nui people, the island is located in the southeastern Pacific Ocean nearly 3,650 km west of Chile.

Read More

Newfoundland’s Sandy Beaches: A Glacial Legacy; By William J. Neal & Joseph T. Kelley

February 1st, 2018

“Newfoundland” as a coastal place does not conjure up images of sandy beaches, but rather scenes of wave-cut rocky cliffs, bird rookeries on small rock islands, sea stacks, and boulder and cobble beaches if wave deposits are present. But scattered among the latter are genuine sand beaches.

Read More

Torrevieja, Spain; By Norma J. Longo

January 1st, 2018

Torrevieja, a former fishing village on the southeast coast of Spain (Costa Blanca) in Alicante province, is now a thriving tourist city with a 2016 population of around 85,000, down from a high of over 105,000 in 2013.

Read More

The rugged coast and black sand beaches of the Azores; By Gary Griggs

December 1st, 2017

A soft, white sandy beach on a lush green island is probably the vision many people have of their perfect coastal vacation. Eight hundred and fifty miles west of Portugal and 2400 miles east of Boston lies the lush island of São Miguel in the Azores. It is one of nine islands making up an archipelago spread across 300 miles of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Read More

Colombia’s Tayrona National Natural Park: A Caribbean Coast Gem; By Nelson Rangel-Buitrago & William J. Neal

October 1st, 2017

Colombia’s Caribbean coast has a rich geological, biological and cultural diversity that is reflected in the complex coastal zone extending from the border of Panama to that of Venezuela. One of the most spectacular regions in both this diversity and scenery is the Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP).

Read More

The end of the world’s most famous beaches; By Orrin H. Pilkey and J. Andrew G. Cooper

August 1st, 2017

All over the world there are beaches lined with condos, hotels, restaurants and the like, in high-rise buildings (i.e., skyscrapers). Such beaches are generally the nation’s premier tourist areas, important to the local people and the local economy and prime spots for national and international vacationers. The powers that be in most of these places continue high-rise construction and seem oblivious of the sea level rise.

Read More

The natural bridges of Santa Cruz County; By Gary Griggs

June 1st, 2017

While most coastlines often appear to be stable and permanent over the short time span of our visits, and some are, there are many others where the materials making up the coastal bluffs or cliffs are no match for the forces the sea exerts…Over time, the ocean always wins. In baseball terms, Mother Nature always bats last.

Read More

Sandbagging at the Shore: North Carolina’s Coastal Sand Bags and Political Sandbaggers; By William Neal, Orrin Pilkey & Norma Longo

April 1st, 2017

The wonder of modern English is how social use of language expands and changes the meaning of words. Sand bag is a bag filled with sand used for temporary construction—quickly made, easily transported, and easily removed. Typically, sandbagging is the emplacement of sand bags to construct a temporary protective wall or barrier, such as a dike or dam to hold back flood waters , or protection on the battlefield. But the term ‘sandbagging’ has taken on an array of other meanings…

Read More

Archive / Beach Of The Month