Safety & Policies

shoreline at Sapelo Island

Visitor Safety

UGAMI’s location means that advanced lifesaving equipment and personnel are 1-2 hours away and may be inaccessible in a timely manner in severe weather. Below are some tips to keep in mind for a safe visit.

When you go in the field, tell someone. Even a quick trip could result in an encounter with an alligator or other hazards, so make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are likely to return. If you are using a boat, file a float plan (with Natalie Schrey or the UGAMI office when she is not available).

Be aware of wild animals. Sapelo Island is home to venomous snakes (diamondback rattlesnakes, copperheads), bulls, boars, and alligators. We have even had encounters with a bobcat. Please give these animals wide berth.

Know what to do in a medical emergency.  Sapelo Island has a volunteer team of first responders with basic medical knowledge, but no advanced medical care is available. A phone list for the Sapelo first responders is posted in every housing unit. UGAMI has an AED (automated external defibrillator) in the main lab. However, we do not keep a supply of anti-venom, insulin, or epinephrine on the Island.

Let us know about medical concerns. Please let Gracie Townsend or Natalie Schrey know about any medical concerns when you arrange your visit.

Visitor Policies

Respect your neighbors. There are people working (and sleeping) at all hours, so please think about your noise level. Pond Circle, Mag Circle, and Shell Hammock are neighborhoods like any others. If you are planning a social event, please make sure it ends at a reasonable hour.

Respect the turtles. Summertime is turtle nesting season, which means that you cannot have fires or other bright lights on the beach. A red light is o.k. (we have red cellophane available to cover your flashlight). Loggerheads are protected under Federal Law, and it is illegal to dig up nests, transport eggs, or even move bones and shell material. If you see a turtle, please do not interfere with its activities.

Respect UGAMI and the Island. Someone suggested that the rule should be “no mischievous behavior.”  Please use common sense, drive slowly, and follow the rules (i.e., “no bikes on the beach”).  Remember that you are representing the Marine Institute in your interactions with others.

Keep it clean. We have a very limited staff. Please help us out by cleaning up after yourself.

Follow UGA policies. UGAMI is a University of Georgia facility, so all UGA rules apply, including:

  • Harassment and discrimination will not be tolerated. If you need to report an incident, you can talk to your supervisor, Assistant Director for Operations Jacob Shalack, or UGAMI Director Merryl Alber. You can also go directly to the University of Georgia Equal Opportunity Office.
  • No alcohol in the workplace, no underage drinking, and no illegal drugs.
  • No smoking in buildings.

Let us know if there are problems. If you see something that makes you concerned, please let someone on the staff know so that we can take care of the issue.