The United States Congress designated the Blackbeard Island Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 3,000 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Georgia
and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Edward "Blackbeard" Teach, a notorious pirate feared by many for his murderous, plundering raids, supposedly came here to "bank" some of his ill-gained fortune. Despite myths about it's name, Blackbeard Island was acquired by the Navy Department at public auction in 1800 as a source of naval stores for shipbuilding. It is one of the oldest properties in continuous Federal ownership in the country. Preserved as a part of the Bureau of Biological Survey in 1924, this maritime forest, salt marsh, freshwater marsh, and beach habitat became Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1940. Interconnected sand dunes, covered thickly with oak and palmetto, separate the numerous ponds and savannas that fill with seasonal rain and provide homes for waterfowl and wading birds on much of the northern portion of the refuge.
Of the land designated as Wilderness on the southern half of the refuge, about 80% is salt marsh, with small portions including slash pines mixed with live oaks and white sandy beach . In the thick humidity of summer, the lush beards of Spanish moss hang from the trees, and green manes of resurrection fern grow on the live oaks. Shorebirds, gulls, and terns utilize the refuge year-round, with spring and fall bringing warblers and sandpipers. Many migrant birds winter on Blackbeard, including hermit thrushes, ruby-crowned kinglets, yellow-rumped warblers, black-bellied plovers, sanderlings, and the endangered piping plover.