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Georgia coast

Molly Samuel / WABE

Most of Sapelo Island is a wildlife preserve owned by the state: bright white beaches, wide-open salt marsh and giant live oak trees with Spanish moss hanging down.

The ferry to the island mostly carries visitors on day trips with cameras and binoculars and backpacks.

But a few dozen people live here in one of the largest remaining Gullah-Geechee communities in the country. Joseph Hall was raised on Sapelo and lives in the  community of Hog Hammock. Like many people, he left the island for school, then work. He moved back about ten years ago.

Courtesy of Tybee Island Police Department

One of the highest tides of the year, called a king tide, caused flooding on the Georgia coast this week. Volunteers are collecting data about it, to be better prepared next time.

The only higher tides ever recorded at the tidal gauge at Fort Pulaski near Savannah were during hurricanes. The bridge connecting Tybee Island to the mainland was submerged, and homes and streets on the island were flooded.

Scientists knew it was going to be a really high tide, but wind pushed it even higher than predicted, said Mark Risse, director of University of Georgia's Marine Extension.

Baby loggerhead sea turtles make their way to the ocean for the first time.
Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources

For nearly 40 years, loggerheads – one of five species of sea turtles that nest along the Georgia coast – were protected by the Endangered Species Act.

To address those declines, state officials undertook a number of initiatives in the 1980s, and in particular looked at fishery mortality rates they believe were largely responsible.

Those efforts appear to be having their intended effect.

In 2014, more than 2,300 sea turtle nests were counted on Georgia shores. That’s a record high for the fifth straight year.

A sunset is captured from the Riverfront Lawn at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in Jekyll Island, GA.
Images courtesy of Jekyll Island Club Hotel

As tourism slows down this fall, Jekyll Island hopes to lure more off-season visitors with a new attraction: a beachfront rink that lets patrons take in sweeping ocean views while gliding on ice skates.

The island state park announced this month plans to build a $30,000 outdoor skating rink that uses synthetic ice — sheets of dense plastic that are slick enough for ice skating. That allows for holiday-themed skating without the need for a frozen surface in a climate that can still reach 70 degrees between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

Carbon bubbles underwater at CO2 reef, Alotau, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea
K. Fabricius

Scientists are fine-tuning what they know about rivers and marshes flushed with saltwater by ocean tides so they can better predict how rising sea levels will reshape the Georgia coast over the next century.

Studies show that rising seas are slowly flooding low-lying areas of dry land along the coast. As its waters creep inland, the Atlantic Ocean is pushing saltwater further upstream into river systems and making coastal marshes even wetter.