We saw Wassaw Island, Georgia

How do you combine serene views, fresh air, exercise, camaraderie and a good deed into one event? Easy peasy. Become a member of Clean Coast of Savannah and volunteer to help during one of its monthly beach and marsh cleanups along the Georgia Coast.

My first outing with the nonprofit organization was to Wassaw Island, located off the coast of Georgia. Designated a National Wildlife Refuge in 1969, the 10,053-acre island has kept its primitive character with beaches, dunes, maritime forest and salt marshes. You can only access the island by boat.

Our trash finds included a tent rain tarp, mangled crab traps, an assortment of plastic bottles, half a buoy, random scraps of plastic and a length of marine-grade rope. In all, our efforts removed more than 400 pounds of trash.

Our adventures also included a guessing game about a dead animal that had washed up on shore a long time before we arrived. We were convinced it was an upside down turtle. We poked at a couple flippers, marveled at a string of vertebrae and peeked under the leathery hide only to make faces at the maggots eating away at remaining bits of flesh. Alas, Caretta Research Project* volunteers later told us it had been a dolphin.

* The Caretta Research Project is a hands-on research, conservation and education project that has been protecting loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge since 1973.

Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge information center and dock, Georgia
Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge information center and dock, Georgia.

Wassaw-Island-Georgia

Clean Coast of Savannah volunteers picking up trash at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Clean Coast of Savannah volunteers picking up trash at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Forest area recovering from a fire, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Forest area recovering from a fire in the Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Shoreline, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Shoreline on a stormy day, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Turtle egg nest marker on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Turtle egg nest marker and protective mesh (helps keep predators from getting to the eggs) on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. This nest has been on the beach less than 45 days, so the protective mesh is not designed to let newly hatched turtles escape to the beach. The mesh will be changed to a different design when it is time for the hatchlings to make their way to the water.

 

Dead tree on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Dead tree on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Dead horseshoe crab on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Dead horseshoe crab on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.

 

Turtle egg nest marker on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Turtle egg nest marker on the beach, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. This nest has been on the beach at least 45 days, so the protective cone-shaped mesh has a gap at the base where newly hatched turtles can escape to the beach.

 

Clean Coast of Savannah volunteers pickied up more than 400 pounds of trash at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia.
Clean Coast of Savannah volunteers picked up more than 400 pounds of trash at Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. Photo credit: Clean Coast of Savannah.

 

About Kristine K. Stevens

Book Cover200Kristine is the author of "If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It Isn't Big Enough: A Solo Journey Around the World." This nonfiction book tells the story of how she sold her house, quit her job and traveled around the world.

Kirkus Book Review: "... Stevens makes a friendly, relatable narrator ... plenty of colorful stories to make this an enjoyable, inspiring read... An often sweet memoir about finding oneself in many different places."


Next travel book to spotlight Iceland

25817249396_f6c787ef9f_z Kristine broke free from a desk job once again, and this time ended up volunteering in the far corners of Iceland!

Details about the release of this book will be posted on Facebook.