Visiting Sapelo Island

General Access Information

GCE-LTER field operations are coordinated from the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island. Access to Sapelo and the Marine Institute are strictly controlled, and require specific permission and advance arrangements. Logistical information about visiting the Marine Institute is available online at, or by contacting Gracie Townsend. Please see the Sapelo Research Requests page for information about requesting permission to conduct research on Sapelo.

Public tours of Sapelo Island are conducted by staff of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) Visitor Center. Information about these tours is available online at Information about SINERR educational programs is also available at

Scheduling Field Work

GCE participants should schedule all field research activities in advance with Jacob Shalack, the GCE Research Coordinator (even if you don't require assistance from the GCE field staff, Jacob may be aware of possible conflicts or opportunities for interaction that might affect your scheduling decisions). Before requesting boat access or planning field work, please review the schedule of upcoming monitoring events in the project calendar to avoid unnecessary conflicts. Tide tables for the GCE study domain are also available online to assist with research planning.

Also, please note that we are working with SINERR and the UGA Marine Institute to create a GIS database for every field experiment on Sapelo Island. The Sapelo Research Request Form must be filled out and approved before any new study site is established within the NERR or anywhere else on Sapelo. It also must be filled out to maintain any previously established sites. If a tracking form is not on file, any markings or equipment (stakes, pens, flags, etc.) will be subject to removal.

Field Safety

Field work is an essential component of GCE-LTER research, but can come with risks that are not necessarily covered in university safety training. Being aware of risks inherent in field work and taking simple precautions can reduce the chances of injury, illness, or harassment, whether you are on Sapelo Island or elsewhere on the GA coast. Download the GCE Field Safety plan, and discuss it with your group before you go.

Housing at Sapelo

The GCE LTER maintains a 2-bedroom trailer and 3-bedroom house year-round on Sapelo Island. Graduate students, research staff and faculty-led groups planning GCE-related research on Sapelo are encouraged to use this housing when available to save travel money. Please check with Merryl Alber about trailer availability and Steve Pennings about house availability when scheduling field work. For larger groups or non-research travel, please contact Gracie Townsend in the UGAMI office for your housing needs.

Detailed information about visiting Sapelo Island

The GCE-LTER graduate students have assembled more detailed information about visiting Sapelo Island. This is especially aimed at first time undergraduate and graduate student visitors, but parts of it will be useful for everyone. You can download the document here.

DNR Ferry Schedule for Sapelo Island

The Sapelo Island Passenger Ferry is run by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - Wildlife Resources Division. UGAMI guests pay $5 roundtrip / person. ALL UGAMI guests must pay the ferry fee. Please submit ferry passenger requests to UGAMI at least a week in advance for groups < 10 and at least 3 weeks in advance for groups of 10 or more. 

Weekday Depart Sapelo Depart Meridian
MONDAY 7:00 am 8:30 am
  12:00 pm 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
TUESDAY 7:00 am 8:30 am
  2:30 pm 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
WEDNESDAY 7:00 am 8:30 am
  12:00 noon 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
THURSDAY 7:00 am 8:30 am
  2:30 pm 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
FRIDAY 7:00 am 8:30 am
  12:00 noon 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
SATURDAY 8:00 am 9:00 am
  12:30 pm 3:30 pm
  4:30 pm 5:30 pm
SUNDAY 8:30 am 9 :00 am
  4:00 pm 4:30 pm

Note: The DNR ferry does not run on most state holidays, including New Years day,
Martin Luther King day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.