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8 places to see exotic marine animals on dry land

Jekyll Island 4-H Center sea turtle

Photo: UGA College of Ag/Flickr

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Georgia barrier islands

Probably not the first place you think of for nature viewing, the barrier islands off the mainland coast of Georgia are actually teeming with marine wildlife. Loggerhead turtles have recently begun to nest along the Georgia barrier islands in much greater numbers, demonstrating a resurgence of this still endangered species. There have even been manatee sightings in the shallow brackish waters on several islands and along the mainland coast.

Cumberland Island National Seashore has 18 miles of beaches that draw turtles during the summer nesting season. Shore birds and wading birds, like egrets and herons, are a common sight along the beaches, as well. If you really want to immerse yourself in this natural setting, you can apply for an internship locating and monitoring sea turtle nesting zones. Neighboring Jekyll Island, meanwhile, is home to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, which specializes in rehabilitating injured or ill loggerheads.