“Monkey Island, SC” is real…and mysterious.

Morgan (Monkey) Island SCSee the green “X” overlaid on one of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina?

That’s Morgan Island, commonly referred to as Monkey Island.  I marked the spot because neither name appeared on Google Maps when I searched for the mysterious island.

It’s been the source of legends, spooky sounds, and government conspiracy stories since the 1970’s, and for good reason.  The U.S. government uses the monkeys on the island for “scientific research”.  Remind anyone of the movie “Planet of the Apes“?

Here’s what we know…

–Morgan Island is owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and leased to the United States Government.

–The 4,000 acre island is inhabited by several thousand Rhesus monkeys, which are used by the U.S. National Institute of Health for scientific and medical research.

–The colony was brought to the island in the 1970’s from Puerto Rico, where reportedly, the monkeys had become overpopulated and were transmitting diseases to the local population.

(I’ve yet to read a reasonable explanation as to why South Carolina officials would offer sanctuary to a colony of monkeys from Puerto Rico.)

–The monkeys are, according to published reports, owned by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.  They were originally used to help find a vaccine for polio.  The government refuses to specify the type of testing currently being conducted on the colony, which is the source behind various conspiracy theories.  A group known as Charles River Laboratories is said to be managing the island and its inhabitants.

–Trespassing on the island is strictly prohibited by state and federal law.  Wild Rhesus monkeys, whether infected with diseases or not, can be extremely dangerous.

Some of the local historic boat tours in the area pass by regularly if you want to try and catch a glimpse of the mysterious island and its inhabitants.  Just don’t get too close.

There is no proof anything sinister is happening at Morgan Island.  But when the words “U.S. Government” and “scientific research” are used together, you can’t help but wonder.

Zombie Monkeys perhaps?

For more information, read the story from the Beaufort Gazette, and watch the video from WJCL-TV.  They contain the most up-to-date information publicly available.

In 2015, the Beaufort Gazette newspaper wrote an informative article on the island.

In 2014, ABC affiliate WJCL published a good six-minute video that goes into a bit more detail.