26 Jan 2023
The Grand Strand's humid subtropical climate offers the perfect habitat for a huge assortment of wild animals. Myrtle Beach visitors can enjoy catching glimpses of Loggerhead Sea Turtles, Dolphins, Alligators and so much more. Birds are especially prevalent in the area, with appearances from the American Herring Gull, the Great Egret, the Horned Grebe and more.
If you're planning a trip, you can see many of these animals on your own, or you can enjoy a guided tour from a local expert. Huntington Beach State Park is the perfect place for birdwatching, and Myrtle Beach State Park offers a Nature Education Center that kiddos love. No matter what time of the year you come, you're sure to see a fun mix of wild animals. Here are 15 of our favorite Myrtle Beach, SC wild animals to search for!
15 Wild Animals in Myrtle Beach, SC
#1 - Royal Tern
This seabird is only found near salt water - making it the perfect bird to spot on your South Carolina trip. Royal Terns are pretty small, weighing in at about 12-16 ounces. They have orange beaks and black "caps" which are most pronounced during their breeding season.
#2 - Alligators
You may have heard stories about alligators making surprise appearances on Myrtle Beach's golf courses, and well, it's true! While alligators have made some surprise appearances, they mostly hangout around the marshes and swamps. Alligators in South Carolina can grow up to 14 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. Check out Huntington Beach State Park if you're looking for alligators.
#3 - Great Black-Backed Gull
Gulls are a pretty common bird to spot, but the Great Black-Backed Gull is a special find because it is the largest member of the gull family. The wingspan of an adult Great Black-Backed Gull can be up to 5.6 feet - imagine looking up in the sky and seeing one of these seabirds coasting over you!
#4 - Dolphins
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the adored dolphin on our list of favorite wild animals in Myrtle Beach, SC. While there are over nine different species of dolphins in the area, the bottlenose and common dolphin are the most regularly spotted. The best time to see dolphins is in the morning and evening when they are looking for fish to eat. Did you know that some dolphin species eat up to 30 pounds of fish in a single day? You can search for dolphins on your own at the beach, or you can take a dolphin cruise with a local company.
#5 - Horned Grebe
This small, strange looking bird is an excellent swimmer, and dives for fish underwater. Horned Grebes are very distinctive and easy to spot due to their scarlet eyes and puffy head. The yellowish feathers that grow in a stripe behind their eyes are actually called their "horns", and they can raise and lower these feathers as they please.
#6 - Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Each year from May through Mid-August, female Loggerhead Sea Turtles make their way to the dunes throughout South Carolina to lay their eggs in nests. Did you know that each nest can have about 120 eggs? That's a lot of baby turtles! After an incubation period of about 55-60 days, baby turtles hatch and make their way to the sea. If you're trying to spot hatchlings, the best time to visit is from July through October.
#7 - Brewers Blackbird
The male Brewers Blackbird is a truly magnificent bird to see. These blackbirds sport an iridescent blue and purple head and neck, with colorful highlights on the rest of their body. Their bright yellow eyes really stand out against their feathers. Did you know that they can catch insects in flight?
#8 - Great Egrets
Great Egrets, also referred to as Great White Herons, are infamous to the Myrtle Beach area. These birds can be up to three feet tall and have a wingspan of 52 - 67 inches. These beautiful birds build their nests in trees that are close to the water. These birds fly slowly, and retract their necks in a very strange looking position while in flight. Great Egrets are usually pretty quiet, but when they're breeding you can hear them produce a loud cuk cuk cuk sound!
#9 - Lettered Olive Snails
The Lettered Olive Snail lives on the shallow sand flats near inlets throughout the Carolinas, and their shell is distinctively beautiful. Did you know that Lettered Olive Snails are actually carnivorous? They catch small crustaceans and take their prey below the sand to eat them.
#10 - Brown Pelican
The Brown Pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelicans, and only one of three known to be found in the Americas. While the Brown Pelican mainly eats fish, it will also occasionally eat the eggs of nesting birds, amphibians and crustaceans. Did you know that after a female Brown Pelican lays its 2 to 3 eggs, both the female and the male pelican take turns to guard and incubate the eggs?
#11 - Bonaparte's Gull
One of the smallest types of gulls, Bonaparte's Gulls are very graceful looking. Female and male Bonaparte's Gulls look very similar, which is unique because some seabirds look different based on their sex. These small gulls can weigh as little as 6.3 ounces! Bonaparte's Gulls are migratory birds that also spend time at the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan.
#12 - Western Sandpiper
This small shorebird changes its plumage to match the season! In the winter they are plain gray, but in the summer months they sport a beautiful reddish-brown spotted look. These birds nest mostly in Alaska and migrate along the Pacific Coast. Some Western Sandpiper's make it all the way to the Atlantic Coast by the fall and stay for the winter - so seeing them in Myrtle Beach, SC is a real treat.
#13 - Canada Goose
These large wild geese are pretty notorious for hanging out in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which consists of Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham. The Canada Goose can live for up to 24 years and can have a 6 foot wingspan! The Male Canada Goose can weigh up to 14 pounds, which is pretty amazing for a migratory bird. You can see the Canada Goose in Myrtle Beach from May to June.
#14 - Sandwich Tern
Sandwich Terns are spectacular to see in flight. They are sleek with long, pointed wings and a forked tail, which make them fast flyers. This vocal bird plunge-dives for fish, and males often present fish to females while trying to court them.
#15 - Willet
This large shorebird is very common to the Myrtle Beach area. Willets have grey legs, a heavy / straight bill, and white rings around their eyes making them look like they're wearing glasses. Did you know that their name (willet) actually refers to the loud and piercing song they sing, which sounds like pill-will-willet?