Only open to the public since 2008, Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area covers 13.6 km2 (5.2 sq mi) of beach, tidal creeks and marshes in the county of Charleston, South Carolina. The site is a former cotton plantation and contains many old buildings, many made of tabby (a mixture of lime, mortar, sand and oyster shells).
The maritime forest and coastal scrub provide nesting and feeding grounds for neotropical songbirds such as painted buntings and summer tanagers. The uplands support opossums, raccoons and several varieties of venomous snake, including the Eastern Coral snake, the Copperhead, the Cottonmouth and three species of rattlesnake.
But the jewel in the area’s crown is the undeveloped coastal habitats: a 1.2 km (0.75 mi) walk across a causeway through salt marsh leads to a two mile long natural beach. This is an important nesting site for the threatened loggerhead sea turtle between May and August. In 2008, biologists counted some 235 separate nests here. Also the least tern, listed as threatened in South Carolina, nests here around mid-May.
The beach is covered with discarded shells from whelks, clams and oysters, but there are restrictions on shelling here. Swimming in the sea is also not recommended due to the quantity of natural debris invisible to the naked eye – from old oyster beds to tree stumps - as well as surprisingly strong rip currents and the possibility of jellyfish and sharks.