The Chesapeake is home to thousands of plants and animals. A number of these species are particularly special because they’re rare -- and some are even endangered.
Rare and endangered species can be found at dozens of spots across our region, from the mountains all the way to the Bay’s shores. When you visit these places, keep in mind that some of our most sensitive species live here. Leave no trace and respect the land and water so that these animals may thrive.
If you’ve ever explored the Eastern Shore, you’ve likely heard of the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. These large, gray ground squirrels live in peaceful mature forests in places like Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Wye Island, and Tuckahoe State Park. If you want to try and spy a Delmarva fox squirrel, make sure you stay very quiet as you walk through the woods!
Down in the Chesapeake’s southern waters, sea turtles visit seasonally to feed in the Bay’s shallows and lay their eggs on sandy beaches. The two most common types of sea turtles in the Bay are the threatened loggerhead and the endangered Kemp’s ridley. Virginia state parks like Kiptopeke and First Landing are prime spots for sea turtle viewing. But if you ever see a stranded sea turtle, report it right away to the Virginia Aquarium at (757) 385-7575.
It’s not an endangered species, but the bobcat is still a rare sight around our parts. That’s because these elusive cats are most active at night. Bobcats live throughout the region, but your best chance to see one is likely in a mountainous location like Shenandoah National Park, Spruce Knob - Seneca Rocks, Green Ridge State Forest, or Hyner Run State Park.
Even at the top places for spotting rare and endangered species, it’s still a special treat to glimpse one of these animals. So if you see one, don’t approach it; just appreciate the view from afar.