Why it Matters

Tybee Island's is bordered to the north by the Savannah River and the shipping channel, which is maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as entry to the Port of Savannah—one of the busiest ports in the country. This channel blocks much of the sediment that would naturally flow south to nourish Tybee Island’s ocean-facing shoreline. Without this supply of sand, Tybee Island's beaches and dunes suffer from increased erosion, impacting public recreation, storm protection and wildlife habitat. As a result, the USACE has funded regular beach nourishments since 1975 under an authorization that is due to expire in 2024. 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

The Threat

A beach’s size, shape, and sand volume help determine how well the beach can protect a developed area during a storm.  Beaches are capable of reducing impacts from coastal storms by acting like a buffer along the coastal edge and absorbing and dissipating the energy of breaking waves, either seaward or on the beach itself.  Dunes serve as a barrier between the waters’ edge and inland areas, taking the brunt of larger storm surges. Tybee Island’s beach naturally erodes over time with the longshore current taking sand southward. Hurricanes Matthew 2016 and Irma 2017 caused significant erosion of the beach and destroyed some of the natural dune system, causing flooding inland along the island’s commercial district and several neighborhoods. Since then, severe hurricanes and tropical storms, along with the increase in sea level rise as measured at the Fort Pulaski tide gauge just a mile off Tybee’s coast, has focused Tybee on building its coastal resilience.

What Tybee Island is Doing

The latest and last beach nourishment under the existing Federal Authorization was completed in January 2020. It was part of Tybee Island’s overall coastal resilience plan—a plan that began to take formal shape with the publication of the Tybee Island Sea Level Rise Adaptation Study in April 2016 and was further informed by the City’s Master Plan of September 2016.

Although Tybee Island had begun implementing its plan in the fall of 2017 and completed its first ever dune construction with City funds in April of 2018, a State of Georgia grant in July 2018 provided the funding necessary to fully implement the City’s coastal resilience improvement plan, including dune construction, dune stabilization for vehicle access, dune vegetation and a full beach nourishment. After spending three years and nearly $18 million nourishing its fragile coastal environment, Tybee Island was honored to be among the select few winners of the 2020 Best Restored Beach award. Judging was based on economic and ecological benefits the beach brings to its community, the success of the restoration project and the challenges the community overcame during the course of the project.

March 7, 2023 - Researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District and the city of Tybee Island to measure vessel wakes near the island’s north shore in hopes of better understanding which ships and operating conditions are associated with generating large wakes.  Located just 18 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, Tybee Island is a popular vacation spot and tourist destination. The island boasts of five distinct beaches, clean, clear water and includes activities from soaking up the sun to water sports. However, commercial vessels transiting the Savannah entrance channel intermittently generate large wake events on the North Beach, creating a potential hazard for beachgoers.

March 7 – ERDC-CHL researchers assess hazardous vessel wakes near Tybee Island

March 7, 2023 - Researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development...
Bigger ships mean bigger waves at Tybee's beach. A recent ship wake study offers solutions

Bigger ships mean bigger waves at Tybee’s beach. A recent ship wake study offers solutions

February 7th, 2023 - Tybee Island resident Joseph Yerchik was lounging on...
City of Tybee Island shares how giant ships affect the shore following case study

City of Tybee Island shares how giant ships affect the shore following case study

January 30th, 2023 Watch Recorded Broadcast Here


Spent on beach nourishment and coastal rehabilitation


Cubic yards of sand used in 2020 beach renourishment


Winner of Best Restored Beach Award
Scroll to Top