Deveaux Bank in Seabrook Island, SC
Deveaux Bank Heritage Preserve is a small barrier island that serves as an important bird sanctuary for migratory, shore and wading birds, and a major nesting area for seabirds. For many seabird species, this natural gem formed by deposits from the Edisto River system is the most significant nesting site in South Carolina. It was established as a sea bird rookery in the 1930s to protect critical habitat of nesting seabirds and shorebirds.
Located between Seabrook Island and Edisto Island at the mouth of the North Edisto River, Deveaux Bank features 2.75 miles of beaches and encompasses a 25-acre Heritage Preserve. Its average elevation is three feet and some areas of the beach are completely submerged during high tide.
You can only reach Deveaux Bank by boat or kayak, with most visitors departing from Cherry Point Landing. Portions of Deveaux Bank are only accessible during certain times of the year, and specified areas are closed off to the public completely. In 2014, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources designated some areas of the bird sanctuary off limits to people. With the exception of a tiny stretch of land on the Seabrook Island side set aside for recreational use, Deveaux Bank is closed year-round above the high water line. Deveaux’s beaches facing inland on the ends of the island are accessible to the public all year. Seasonal closures occur each year at different times and vary depending on habitat use, migratory patterns and nesting habits, but the goal is to allow people to access areas that aren’t vital nesting habitat. Some migratory birds that have been identified as high priority species due to their dwindling numbers, including red knots, sanderlings and ruddy turnstones, use Deveaux Bank as a resting and feeding stop. The seasonal closures are also an important means of protecting these coastal birds from further decline. Typically access to the island is largely restricted from May through October 15 during the breeding season, though precise dates may vary each year.
Deveaux Bank is a beautiful, pristine area to kayak and observe wildlife such as dolphins, brown pelicans, terns, plovers, egrets, bald eagles and osprey. Most trips launch from Cherry Point Landing, a four-mile nautical trip one way. Professional kayaking guides recommend planning day trips to Deveaux Bank during an ebb tide, to paddle with the outgoing tidal current. You should aim to arrive at Deveaux by low tide and depart after high tide begins. It can also be a rough ride on windy days, so it’s suggested that novice kayakers pair up with a more experienced paddler.
This sandspit island is a popular nesting area for two species of concern, black skimmers and gull-billed terns, and hosts the largest nesting colony of brown pelicans on the entire Atlantic coast. It’s also a popular breeding area for the sandwich tern, the royal tern, herons, egrets and ibis. Pairs of American oystercatchers and willets nest along the island as well. Additionally, migratory birds, including the largest gathering of piping plovers (a federally listed shorebird) in South Carolina congregate here.
Rules and Regulations
Because it provides such crucial habitat for many sea bird species, Deveaux Bank has a number of rules and regulations limiting access and usage that visitors must heed. Dogs, camping, motorized vehicles, bicycles and horses are prohibited year round on the island due to the threat they pose to nesting sites and habitat. The public is also not permitted to enter any area of the preserve designated as a bird nesting area. Additionally, people are not allowed to access parts of the island above the high water line. Visit SC DENR’s public lands regulations page for more information http://www.dnr.sc.gov/mlands/specregs.html.