Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Impact of Rising Sea Levels on the Wildlife of Bulls Island

The changes in sea levels over the last 50 years is having a significant impact on coastal areas like Bulls Island and Cape Romain. Because the beaches are eroding so quickly, we are losing large portions of beach front each season-- and during nesting season for Loggerhead Sea Turtles, this has a detrimental impact. The refuge manager, Sarah Dawsey, and a team of volunteers relocate nests that are in danger of being flooded by changing tides.

Chris Crolley, the steward of Coastal Expeditions, has witnessed the change that has occurred on Bulls Island since he began running the ferry service to the refuge in 1994. Entire roads have washed away and areas of the island that used to be freshwater are slowly being breached by saltwater. He was interviewed for an article in last week's Post & Courier about the changes in the barrier island ecology due to rising sea levels. It's an undeniable event that Sarah Dawsey, Chris Crolley and the other stewards of Cape Romain are watching closely.

Spring Break with the Oneonta College Outdoor Club


Snapper wanted a Lowcountry experience for his group of girls from the Oneonta College Outdoor Club, and what better way than to spend the morning paddling in the estuary followed by an afternoon of fresh seafood from right out of the creek. After all, crabs fresh from the pot and oysters right off the bank might be the best way to re-fuel after a long paddle.

Zach Fischer and I instructed the girls on baiting a couple of crab pots to soak while we paddled out toward Morris Island lighthouse. Snapper and his group were on the tail end of their week long journey of paddling some of the most pristine waters in the coastal southeast, and today they would add another nine miles of paddling to their trip. And what a nine miles it was! The morning was a quiet glide, the air calm and still, the water’s surface like glass, and the silhouette of the lighthouse on the horizon growing bolder as we paddled on. A marsh hen announced high tide during lunch on Rat Island, and we watched dolphins feed in the creek as the tide fell on our way home.

Back at the hill, we pulled the crab pots to find a few big Jimmy blue crabs and three monster stone crabs. Oh the bounty of the estuary! Zach got the steamer going while I popped open a few oysters for some creek-side sushi, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen oysters disappear quicker. We had certainly worked up quite an appetite.

Several of the group filled their bellies, and even some of the non-seafood lovers shucked a few oysters and cracked some claws. It was the end of a good, long day, and I think we all felt pretty salty and smelly and exhausted, but more than anything we were hungry. Besides, sometimes it’s nice to feel salty and smelly and exhausted after a good long day in a Lowcountry estuary.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Shem Creek Clean Up

We teamed up with Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy last night to clean up debris in Shem Creek. Kayaking and paddleboarding into the grassy edges, more than 40 volunteers were able to clear the creek of tires, styrofoam, bottles, cans and other trash that had collected.

Coastal Expeditions provided kayaks for 40 volunteers, a support boat to collect trash and six guides to help facilitate the event. Sea Tow Charleston, our neighbor at the Shem Creek Maritime Center, provided a second support boat and was able to bring in the bulk of the debris. Food and beer for the after party was donated by Whole Foods, Palmetto Brewing Co. and Iacofano's.

All in all, it was a great night and everyone showed up ready to work and have a good time.

Conservation efforts are at the core of the Coastal Expeditions mission statement. Working with a group of energetic and passionate volunteers was such a privilege and we're so glad to have been able to help out to keep our creek clean! We hope to see you at our next event!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ACE Basin

A guide and client favorite is our ACE Basin tour of Cuckcold's Creek. When we kayak the water trails of the blackwater, we're able to see places that are inaccessible by foot or larger boats. And the quiet rhythms of the paddles let us get close to birds and other inhabitants of this Lowcountry Eden. Trips are offered monthly to the ACE Basin or you can plan a private expedition if you have a group of 4 or more. Call 884-7684 for more information.

This video was created by the Charleston Post & Courier: