Captain Joe has been fishing the waters of Hilton Head Island, SC for 20 years and uses his hard-earned knowledge to put anglers on fish. Whether you’re an experienced angler or a newcomer who wants to experience the waters of the Lowcountry, Captain Joe offers a fishing experience to meet your specific needs.
CHARTERS INSHORE OFFSHORE SPORTFISHING. Come onboard this 27-foot power catamaran: “The Stray Cat.” We’re hot and fast! Spend less time riding and more time fishing. Captain Jim Clark has been named to George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing A-Team. (843) 683-5427 or straycatcharter.com.
Enjoy the natural beauty, history and culture of the Lowcountry with Outside Palmetto Bluff. Outside Hilton Head’s Bluffton location offers Dolphin Nature Tours, Beachcombing Cruise, Full Tide Discovery Tour, Kayak Nature Tours, Outback Tour, Private Kayak Instruction & Tours, May River History Paddle, Introduction to Stand Up Paddleboarding, Daufuskie Island History Tour, Stand Up Paddle Nature… Read More…
Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced paddler, come join us in the fun and adventure of the fastest growing sport in the world! We offer Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) lessons, group and family outings and tours, sunset paddles, moonlight paddles, sunrise paddles, SUP race training, and even a little SUP yoga and fitness. (843) 368-8690.
Roseate Spoonbills: The Pink Bird Makes a Come BackTest
By Kathleen McMenamin Vicars, Master Naturalist
Roseate spoonbills are becoming a more common sight throughout our Lowcountry marshes. They can commonly be spotted around low tides in our marshes, beak down in the water, looking for food. They are a beautiful sight with their pink feathers and distinct bill.
Roseate Spoonbills, Platalea ajaja, almost disappeared from the United States by the 1860s. They were over hunted for their beautiful plumes. Desecration of their natural wading and nesting environments contributed to their declining numbers in the early 1900s. Once preservation efforts were set forth, the species was able to successfully recolonize the Florida and Texas coasts. By the early 20th century, their population bounced back and has slowly spread back across the coastal Southeast.
The state of South Carolina has happily seen an increase in roseate populations over the years. They come into our coastal area in the spring and stay through the summer, foraging and nesting in our Lowcountry marshes. Keep an eye out for them in our marshes at low tide and nesting on Pinckney Island in the late spring months.
Roseates are easy to identify. They have a white head and neck, with light pink wings that have bright pink borders. They also have long pink legs. From a distance, you may think you are looking at a flamingo. Their bill is long and flat with a round spoon shape at the end. They can grow to be two and a half feet tall with a wingspan of up to five feet.
They prefer to live in lagoons, marshes, mudflats and mangrove habitats. In South Carolina, they are most commonly found in our marshes and may be mixed with other large groups of wading birds. They will forage for food in shallow waters of both fresh and saltwater habitats. Their large spoon-shaped bill offers them a great advantage while feeding. Roseates will sweep their slightly open bills side to side in the water, detecting small fish, invertebrates, shrimp and crabs by touch.
These birds will nest in large colonies, with individuals of their own species, as well as other wading birds. They have been known to nest in the Wood Ibis Pond area of Pinckney Island. Courtship between a pair begins when they are at least three years old. The preliminary wooing appears to be an aggressive interaction. They then begin to perch closely to each other once a connection has been made. The final courting ends with nesting sticks being presented to one another. Once the bond has been made, the male will gather nest materials, while the female builds the nest.
Their nests can be made in willows, mangroves, low scrub or cedars, but are generally all over water. The nest is a large bulky platform with a hollow in the center for the eggs. Once the nest is complete, the female will lay two to three eggs. The pair will take turns incubating the nest for up to 24 days. Both mother and father will take turns bringing food to the young, who may begin straying slightly from the nest within six weeks. They will start to fly strongly at about eight weeks.
H2O Sports on Hilton Head Island is a great place to spark curiosity and inspire learning in all ages. Learn more about the birds of our area with eco-adventure tours and live alligator exhibits. To make reservations for the Alligator and Wildlife Tour, please call (877) 290-4386. For information, visit H2OSports.com.
Top 5 Fall Golf Tips: How to make the most of your game this month.Test
Photo courtesy of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.
Whether you’re just learning to play golf or you’ve been teeing off for decades, it’s important to realize that golf is a sport that can take a lifetime to perfect. There are always new ways to refine your swing, practice your putt and improve your score. Fall’s refreshing weather encourages golf improvement.
As October temperatures cool on Bluffton, this is an ideal time to refine your golf game and get “back to basics.” Here are a few of my top fall golf tips, to help you make the most of your game:
1. Don’t let the muscles in your hands, wrist and forearms provide the power for the swing. When you use those small muscles, your club and your swing get out of rhythm and sync. The body’s larger slow-twitch muscle fibers are more dependable under pressure. They provide the consistency you need to hit more shots with greater accuracy on the green and the fairway. When you swing slow, the ball goes fast. When you feel out of control, you are in control.
2. Stay relaxed. Encourage your body to stay relaxed and to allow the club to do its job. Respect the weight of the club, keep your body loose and keep your elbows close to your body. I recommend you stretch daily, starting with your hips, hamstrings and wrists. Frequently, in a lesson when the student becomes tense and performance deteriorates, I change the atmosphere by asking questions about other hobbies or vacation activities. This melts the tension away and performance improves.
3. Adjust your grip, depending upon the shot. For smaller shots, grip the club down low, put your weight on your left foot and use a modest backswing. For bigger shots, be sure to grip the club up high, widen your stance, use a long back swing and transfer your weight back and forward for more power. Let the club do the work. Fun-Da-Mentals make golf fun.
Photo: Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
4. Don’t procrastinate. Your short game is where you have the greatest opportunity to reduce your score. I invite you to take my Shortgame 1 Class or a private lesson at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy, which will help you refine your skills. Most students say after the lesson, “Why didn’t I do this year ago?”
5. Think positive. So much of golf is mental and psychological. Feed relaxed, affirmative thoughts to your subconscious mind in order to maximize your swing. If you choose encouraging messages to guide you and apply solid fundamentals to your game, you’ll be able to succeed. Try our Mental Golf Workshop Class to make the most of your game.
October is one of my favorite months of the year in the Lowcountry. It is not too hot or too cool. You still need to stay hydrated, wear a hat and apply high-SPF sunscreen.
Make the most of your time on the golf course. I’ll see you out on the course!
By Doug Weaver, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Ranked the #2 Instructor in South Carolina by Golf Digest and a former PGA Touring Pro, Doug Weaver is the Director of Instruction at the Palmetto Dunes Golf Academy and leads “Where Does the Power Come From?” a complementary golf clinic and exhibition on Mondays at 4 p.m. For details and reservations for golf clinics, classes, lessons and on-course instruction, call (888) 322-9091 or visit palmettodunes.com.
The ACE Basin: A Natural Marvel in South CarolinaTest
Just a 25-minute drive from Bluffton lies a natural marvel untouched by commercial industry. The ACE Basin — named for the convergence of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto Rivers — offers 350,000 acres of diverse ecological beauty and the Southeast’s most expansive estuary system.
Although some of the area’s tidal wetlands were converted to rice plantations in the mid-1700s and into hunting retreats in the late 1800s, the Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge has ensured that approximately 12,000 acres of this natural environment will serve as a protected habitat for the creatures that call it home, including a number of endangered and threatened species.
Bird watchers travel to South Carolina’s ACE Basin to watch bald eagles soar overhead and marvel at the ospreys, egrets, herons and sandpipers as they gracefully flit around the wetlands of Bear Island. Hunters seasonally descend upon the forests of the basin’s Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in search of white-tailed deer and wild turkey.
The basin’s collection of pristine freshwater streams, saltwater marshes, tidal creeks and brackish waters offers fishing enthusiasts a chance to catch large bass and to spot members of the ACE Basin’s large family of alligators. Visitors are invited to paddle through this area by kayak or canoe and enjoy the sights and sounds of this natural treasure.
Offering excellent hiking, biking and nature trails, the ACE Basin is the perfect place to introduce children to the wonders of biology and ecology. The less adventurous can get a taste of the basin’s swamps, wetlands, uplands and forests by driving along designated dirt roads or down the make-shift road lined by moss-draped live oak trees to Grove Plantation. The antebellum house that now serves as the office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, was once owned by Brooks Brothers’ President Owen Winston and occupied by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.
The ACE Basin’s public sites, including Bear Island, Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, the Edisto River and the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge, are open to the public year-round during daylight hours. Dogs are permitted, but must be on leashes.
5 Foods You Must Try in The LowcountryTest
From traditional Southern meals to sugary sippin’s and late night nibbles, the Lowcountry’s culinary scene is vast and growing immensely nationwide. But you don’t have to spend a fortune at restaurants to sample some of the South’s specialties.
Fried Green Tomatoes:
This simple golden side dish peaked in popularity when the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes” came out in 1991. Though considered Southern fare for years, this dish has its own secret backstory, emerging from Jewish immigrants in the Northeast and Midwest before becoming a star of the South. Some of the first recipes found published on this traditional American tomato dish were in Jewish cookbooks, before showing up in cookbooks in the Midwest and newspapers. No matter where they’re from, we’re just glad they’re here and you can find them on menus all over the Lowcountry from Charleston to Bluffton.
Shrimp & Grits:
A staple on any Southern table, Shrimp & Grits is another hot dish you won’t want to miss. This regional specialty hails from the Lowcountry, with origins in the Native American Muskogee tribe who ground corn in a stone mill, giving it a gritty texture. It wasn’t until 1985 when Craig Claiborne of the New York Times visited North Carolina and published a recipe about them, that the Shrimp & Grits we know today gained widespread popularity. From hole-in-the-wall diners to upscale eateries all across the South, this plate is made many different ways, each pleasing palates of many different people.
Sweet tea is regarded as an important regional staple in the cuisine of the South. It is
most commonly made by adding sugar or simple syrup to black tea either while the tea is brewing or while still hot. Sweet tea is almost always served ice cold. It may sometimes be flavored, most commonly with lemon but also with peach, raspberry, or mint. Unlike the northern states,when one orders iced tea at a restaurant in the Lowcountry, one is more likely to be served sweet tea instead of unsweetened.
Photo: The Chocolate Canopy, Hilton Head Island
When strolling by the candy kitchens and confectioners in the Lowcountry, you can’t help but smell the sweet aromas sifting through the air of fresh pralines. Though they’re known for their caramel color and crunchy pecans in the United States, these delights actually hail from France, where they’re much firmer, made with almonds and caramelized sugar. When they were brought over by French settlers to Louisiana, local chefs substituted the ingredients for the ample pecans and sugar cane. They’re in abundance here in the Hostess City of the South, so be sure to grab some sugar when you’re in Savannah!
Georgia may be called the “Peach State,” but did you know that South Carolina actually grows more of this sweet, succulent fruit? As of 2017, the state of South Carolina produced 11,000 tons of peaches. Whether you’re in the mood for peach ice cream, peach cobbler or just some fresh peaches from a roadside stand, be sure to get some of this fuzzy fruit while you’re here!
A handful of local fishermen have been fly fishing in Lowcountry waters since the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, but the sport has been growing in popularity in the past five years. More than just a “yuppie sport,” saltwater fly fishing offers a unique challenge and an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the area.
A year-round sport in the Lowcountry, saltwater fly fishing is especially popular in the winter months, when Redfish and speckled trout are abundant. In the summer, Spanish mackerel, Jack Crevelle, Lady fish and Bluefish can be caught in the Lowcountry’s nutrient-rich inshore waters. Offshore fish like dolphin (mahi mahi) cobia (in the Spring only), amberjack and barracuda can also be hooked on a fly rod. The average fish caught on a fly rod ranges between 18 and 40 inches.
Fly fishing, as a rule, requires generous doses of patience and skill. A sporting method of catching fish, fly fishing tends to be more active than conventional bait and tackle fishing because it requires frequent casting and constant involvement with the fish. Enticing fish to eat the fly is more challenging than using a lure or live bait.
With live bait, the fisherman usually throws the baited hook in the water and waits for the fish to take the bait. With fly tackle, the opposite principle applies: you literally take the fly to the fish.
As a result, sight is of primary importance when fly fishing. First, you literally have to see the fish in the shallow water. Then, you have to try not to spook the fish when you cast the fly. Redfish in particular can be easily spooked. If you slap the water too hard with the fly, the fish will swim away.
Presentation of the fly itself is crucial. Unlike flies, bait has a scent which naturally attracts fish. Accordingly, flies must simulate food in their appearance and motion. Flies with names like the Weber Rattleshrimp, the Clouser Minnow and Lefty’s Deceiver simulate the movement patterns of fish’s natural food sources. Shrimp, crab, mullet and minnows are among the most popular prey. With Redfish, where you put the fly in relation to the fish matters.
If you put the fly too close to the fish, it will likely flee the scene; if you put the fly too far away from a Redfish, it may not respond. Usually you’ll have two or three shots at a school of fish before you either hook up or spook them.
Redfish fly fishing is most successful in shallow water, on flats at, or near, low tide, with a water depth ranging from six inches to two feet. Because the water is so shallow, you can actually see the fish you’re trying to catch.
In the summertime, Redfish travel further inland into the flooded marsh grass. When the tide is 7 ½ feet or greater, the redfish swim up on fiddler flats to dig fiddler crabs out of the marsh mud. The fish’s tails stick out of the water as they burrow, making them easy to spot.
Saltwater fly fishing is not quite as popular in the summertime however, mainly because it competes with tarpon season. Saltwater fly fishing differs from freshwater fly fishing in that the equipment tends to be larger and heavier. The flies themselves are bigger as well. Also, a boat is usually required for saltwater fishing to access the places where schools of Redfish and other species congregate.
Best of all, fly fishing offers an opportunity to observe spectacular wildlife and to witness breathtaking sunsets. After taking a fly rod out on the water, many people discover that sight casting the flats is so much fun that fishing itself can sometimes feel secondary.
Fishin’ Coach ChartersTest
16 Rainbow Road | Bluffton | (843) 757-2126
Bluffton Marine Sports & SupplyTest
140 Burnt Church Road | Bluffton | (843) 757-7593.
50 Bush’s Branch Road | Bluffton | (843) 342-8687
Visit Savannah’s Historic SquaresTest
Savannah’s scenic jewels make this historic city remarkably beautiful and unforgettable.
The 22 squares in Savannah today provide locals and visitors alike with a little greenery amid all the businesses and historic houses. At one time there were 24 historic squares, but two were lost due to city development while others, such as Ellis Square, were redesigned and made even more appealing. These squares are surrounded by some charming churches, historic homes, enchanting inns and museums and are all shaded by huge live oak trees. On weekends you might see kids running around them with a football, a couple having a picnic in the grass or maybe even a proposal! Savannah’s squares are a hot spot for intimate, outdoor weddings in Georgia’s First City.
North to South:
Dedicated in 1790, this square is named for Benjamin Franklin, an agent for the colony of Georgia from 1768 to 1778. Just off City Market, this is the northwestern-most square. Montgomery & St. Julian Sts.
Designed in 1733 and named in honor of Henry Ellis, the second Royal Governor, Ellis Square has recently been re-stored by the City of Savannah. Here the “Old City Market” was located and mer-chants sold crops and wares. Barnard & St. Julian Sts.
A center of activity, Johnson Square was the first square laid out by General James Oglethorpe in 1733. Savannah’s largest square is named for Robert Johnson, a close friend of Oglethorpe. Bull & St. Julian Sts.
Originally called Lower New Square, Reynolds Square was once home to the Filature, where silkworms were housed in an effort to create silk in the Georgia colony. Abercorn & St. Julian Sts.
Located in one of the oldest areas of the city, Warren Square is named in honor of General Joseph Warren, a Revolutionary War hero, and was added in 1790. Habersham & St. Julian Sts.
Built at the same time as Warren Square, Washington Square once bordered the original Trustees’ Garden, where colonists grew a variety of experimental crops. Today it is the north-east-ernmost square in the city. Houston & St. Julian Sts.
Liberty Square was laid out in 1799 and is named in honor of the Sons of Liberty and the victory over the British in the Revolutionary War. Only a portion of the square still exists. It is the site of the “Flame of Freedom” sculpture. Montgomery between State and York Sts.
Laid out by James Oglethorpe in 1733, it is one of the four original squares and was known as one of the more fashionable neighborhoods of the time. Renamed in 1883 to honor the Telfair family, it is the only square honoring a family rather than an individual. It also contains a tribute to the Girl Scouts. Barnard & President Sts.
Originally called Percival Square, Wright Square is also the final resting place for Tomochichi, the Native American leader who helped General James Oglethorpe found the colony of Georgia. Bull & President Sts.
This square pays homage to General James Oglethorpe, founder of Savannah and the colony of Georgia, and is a perfect place to enjoy a picnic or a shady break. Abercorn & President Sts.
Taking its name from a popular nickname for the American colonies—Columbia—this square is a tran-quil spot away from the hustle and bustle of down-town. Nestled within the north-east quadrant of the Historic District, it is a favorite stop for Savannahians. Habersham & President Sts.
Named after General Nathaniel Greene, a general in the Continental Army and an aide to General George Washington during the Revolutionary War, Greene Square is one of the most beauti-ful squares in Savannah. Houston & President Sts.
Located near the Savannah Civic Center, Orleans Square commemorates General Andrew Jackson’s 1815 victory in the Battle of New Orleans, part of the War of 1812. This square features beautiful red tulips in the spring and a bubbling fountain all year long. Barnard & McDonough Sts.
Named in honor of the American victory in the Battle of Chippewa during the War of 1812, Chippewa Square is where Forrest Gump’s bench was placed dur-ing the filming of the movie by the same name. Bull & McDonough Sts.
Designed in the year 1841 and named in honor of William Harris Crawford, Crawford Square contains part of a nineteenth-century water cistern and features a gazebo. It also offers the city’s first paved basketball court for residents. Houston & McDonough Sts.
Pulaski Square is named for Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, a hero of the Revolutionary War, and is one of the few squares with-out a monument. This square features some of the most beautiful live oaks in the city, as well as thick ivy ground-cover. Barnard & Macon Sts.
Named for the fourth U.S. President James Madison, this square features vin-tage cannons from the old Savannah Armory and a bronze monument of Sergeant William Jasper. The Savannah College of Art and Design orig-inally opened in 1979 on this square. Bull & Macon Sts.
Named for French aristocrat and military officer Marquis de Lafayette, this square is home to the ornate Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and fea-tures quaint benches and cobblestone sidewalks. Abercorn & Macon Sts.
Troup Square features an armil-lary, an astro-nom-ical center-piece made of iron, that is support-ed by small metal turtles. Named in honor of Georgia Gov-ernor George Michael Troup, this is one of the most pic-tur-esque squares in the Historic District. Habersham & Macon Sts.
This square is home to Gordon Row, a block of 15 identical townhouses admired for their iron-work and unique doorways. Chatham Square is named in honor of the Earl of Chatham, an early supporter of the colony. Barnard & Wayne Sts.
With a statue of Casimir Pulaski at the center, Monterey Square is widely considered Savannah’s most picturesque square. The Mercer House, the set-ting for the murder in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is located on this lovely square. Bull & Wayne Sts.
This square, laid out in 1851, was named in honor of John C. Calhoun, a senator from South Carolina, who served as Vice President under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. It offers some of the best views of the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church and the Massie School. Abercorn & Wayne Sts.
A popular place for weddings, Whitefield Square has a lovely white gazebo that has hosted count–less wedding cere-monies. The square is named for George Whitefield, an English clergyman who founded the Bethesda Orphan Home and served as a minister to the city’s ear-liest colonists. Habersham & Wayne Sts.
1498 Fording Island Road | Bluffton | (843) 681-2628
405 Squire Pope Road | Hilton Head Island | (843) 681-2628
The Power of the TidesTest
By Mike Overton, Outside Hilton Head
In May of 1979, I was a fledgling college student with an idea of opening a windsurfing school.
On a whim, a truck loaded six windsurfers and equal parts of excitement and anxiety into my car as we ventured into unknown territory. I had never traveled south of Washington, D.C., and by the time I hit Coosawhatchie, it was pitch black, without a single light between I-95 and the open drawbridge from Bluffton onto Hilton Head Island.
The following week, I booked my first customer, taking him to the Shipyard Beach Club to introduce him to the sport of windsurfing. He had a horrible time: he cut his knees, got stungby a jellyfish and requested a full refund. I was devastated, but went back to the drawing board, did some research and found out that the #1 key to success for a windsurfing school was location. This meant somewhere with flat, safe water and consistent winds. My hunt was on.
Eventually, someone recommended that if I wanted great advice about opening a business on Hilton Head, I should speak with Charles Fraser. After a few weeks, I was able to secure a 10-minute appointment with Mr. Fraser. Ten minutes turned into seven hours. He took me all over Sea Pines Plantation, to lunch, to the marsh and for a sail on his boat, The Compass Rose. At the end of the day, he gave me advice that has guided my experiences, my business and my life in the Lowcountry ever since.
“If you wish to be successful with your goals,” Mr. Fraser told me, “you must understand that everything in the Lowcountry revolves around one thing – the tides. All of our history, all of our culture, all of our nature, all of our literature revolves and evolves around the tides. If you truly understand this, and if you can connect people to the tides and to the phenomena of this place where man discovers the shore, you will be successful.”
Now, almost 40 years later, I look back on those words and reflect on how appropriate they are to being a local.
From the Native Americans who traveled in dugout canoes as they hunted and gathered, to European settlers attracted to the large tidal sounds that their galleons could navigate; from planters and farmers who leveraged the tides with rice dikes, cotton and indigo fields, to the Gullah people who made a living harvesting our bounty of seafood, tides influence how people have lived for centuries.
If you want to truly appreciate the Lowcountry, experience the tides. Get out on the water, feel the pluff mud and relish the sea breeze. It is truly magical.
You know, there is a foolproof way to tell if there are sharks in the water, and it works anywhere on the globe. Put your finger in the water and touch it to your tongue. If you taste salt, there are sharks! Every body of saltwater has sharks in it. In South Carolina alone, there are 13 families and 38 species of sharks roaming our waters.
The first thing to know about sharks is that they have evolved over millions of years and are the oldest of fishes. Their common ancestor existed before the dinosaurs, approximately 400 million years ago, and sharks haven’t changed much in 200 million years, since the end of the Cretaceous period. They are perfectly built for their environment and purpose.
Secondly, one of the major differences between sharks and other fish is a skeleton made of cartilage, instead of bone. All species of shark are in the class Chondrichthyes—cartilaginous fishes. Cartilage is much softer than bone and this adaptation gives the shark an advantage as an apex predator, allowing it more flexibility and maneuverability.
Sharks lack a swim bladder which gives other fish control over their buoyancy. Although cartilage is lighter than bone, sharks still sink, so they must move constantly to stay off the ocean floor. Some sharks, but not all, must swim their entire lives so water runs over their gills and oxygenates their blood.
An airplane mimics the shape of a shark with a fusiform body streamlined like a bullet, large pectoral fins on each side to help with lift (wings) and a tall caudal fin (tail) and dorsal fin for stability. In addition to cartilage, elastic connective tissue called collagen gives the shark ease of motion when thrusting its tail fin back and forth for propulsion. Like stretching a rubber band and letting go, this lateral motion releases equal amounts of energy in both directions, allowing sharks to move fast with minimal effort!
Little known fact: bony fish (Osteichthyes) and sharks emerged from a common ancestor before fish produced scales. Sharks have dermal denticles or “skin teeth,” which are made of dentin, the same material found inside teeth.
However, both classes of fish have teeth, which is probably the first attribute you think of when the word “shark” is mentioned. The roots of their teeth are embedded in gum tissue, instead of jaw bone like ours. Sharks shed their teeth at every meal and a large shark may lose 30,000 teeth over its lifetime.
There are approximately 500 species of sharks on earth, which sounds like a lot, but in comparison, there are 25,000 species of bony fish. Sharks live in all parts of the ocean marine environment. Some stay in the deep, others venture close to shore, some travel great distances, some visit the surface, and some can even tolerate fresh water (bull shark). The smallest shark (dwarf dogfish) tops out at six inches when fully grown while adult whale sharks can approach 40 feet in length!
Fish typically reproduce with external fertilization meaning that eggs are fertilized after they are laid. Sharks mate with internal fertilization, the type of sexual reproduction you have to explain to your kid at some point. It is obvious when a female has mated because of the bites and clasper barb marks inflicted by the male shark. Pleasurable? Probably not. Luckily, she can store sperm for at least a year, minimizing the encounters. The bonnethead, according to an article published in the August 22, 2007 issue of Biology Letters, is one of four shark species that is capable, in rare cases, of a virgin birth (parthenogenesis).
Although they all mate, sharks have various methods of reproductive development. Some are oviparous (lay eggs after mating), others are viviparous (give live birth) and some are ovoviviparous (carry eggs which hatch inside of the female). The sand tiger shark is ovoviviparous with a 9-12 month gestation and has two uteri, producing only one offspring from each uterus. These two shark pups consume all of their siblings in the womb and continue to feed on their mother’s unfertilized eggs for sustenance. The three-foot-long sand tiger shark pup is more developed at birth than other species of sharks.
The most common sharks in South Carolina’s estuaries are Atlantic sharpnose, sandbar, bonnethead, blacktip, finetooth, scalloped hammerhead, nurse, lemon, tiger, sand tiger and dusky. Spinner, bull and blacknose sharks are also observed to a lesser degree. Sharks are usually more plentiful near shore in the spring and summer and move off shore in fall and winter.
Captain Amber, is it true there aren’t many sharks around Hilton Head Island because the dolphins scare them away?
Ummmm…no. We have plenty of sharks, but larger sharks have a greater range and move even further off shore in lean months to find fish, since larger sharks require larger food. As nurseries of the ocean, estuaries are not the best place to find large prey items. Dolphins pretty much bogart food in the winter, and there is less to share. While sharks typically don’t prey on dolphins, they may attack vulnerable pod members. However, the entire pod will defend the weaker members of their family and the shark may get more than he bargained for. Examples of sharks that would attack a dolphin would be bull sharks, tiger sharks or great white sharks, in a pelagic (open seas) environment.
Sharks feed primarily in low light or at night. Death by shark attack is rare in our area and the last fatal shark attack in South Carolina took place in 1852. It is important to realize sharks don’t seek revenge and are simply following a path leading to the most food. By the way, sea turtles are on the shark menu and sea turtles swim to shore to nest—at night! However, there have been more shark bite reports lately in the Carolinas. My theory is more sea turtles plus more tourists equals more opportunity for interaction. I do not believe that after millions of years sharks are changing their behavior, unless they are running out of food in the big blue.
Sharks live long lives and are slow to reproduce. A consistent decline in the population will not recover quickly and they are at higher risk than other fish. An essential keystone species in the marine environment, sharks maintain the health of the ocean by taking out the weak, dead or dying. There is so much we do not know about the ocean and its inhabitants, but it is undeniable that if this awe-inspiring creature is not protected, we will see adverse changes in the marine environment.
Under current South Carolina Department of Natural Resources regulations, there are only two sharks likely to be encountered under normal fishing circumstances that recreational anglers can keep:
• Atlantic sharpnose shark
• Bonnethead shark
All other species must have a minimum fork length of 54 inches. Fork length is measured from the tip of the shark’s nose to the fork in the caudal fin (tail). A shark with a 54” fork length would have an approximate total length of 5 1/2 to 6 feet.
Shark fishing from the shore is illegal. For details on shark populations in South Carolina estuaries and fishing regulations, visit dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/shark.
Written by Amber Hester Kuehn, Marine Biologist / Owner, Spartina Marine Education Charters. Photos courtesy of Jeff Kuehn.
The Important Work of the Waddell Mariculture CenterTest
If you have never heard of Waddell Mariculture Center (WMC), let me start by saying that it is the ONLY facility like it in the United States. And, yes, it is in Bluffton, South Carolina and has been for over 30 years! It is a research facility managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), where biologists have perfected methods for farm raising fish and shrimp. Individuals worldwide visit Waddell to collect information to successfully produce farm-raised seafood.
In addition to their primary mission, biologists at the center assist with other marine life issues in Beaufort County. There is a tight community of marine biologists and enthusiasts in this area—some have graduate degrees in marine science, some are charter boat companies that offer ecology tours, some are non-profit organizations and nature clubs and some are fishermen and boaters who pick up trash in the May River.
At all levels, there is concern for the marine life in Beaufort County. When an opportunity comes around to support marine research and mingle with some seriously dedicated individuals, there is no better time to catch them than when they are socializing at the Annual Taste of Waddell fundraiser, an oyster roast and cookout taking place on the Bluff of the Colleton River at Waddell Mariculture Center.
Here are just a few of the Waddell Mariculture Center’s achievements:
• Beaufort County has the best red drum fishery on the East Coast. Waddell’s red drum stock enhancement program is responsible for that continuing success having stocked over 20 million fish in South Carolina waters. These fish populations are monitored using DNA technology developed by SCDNR.
• WMC is undergoing a renovation to the main office and laboratory building. Part of the renovation plan includes the installation of cobia and spotted sea trout spawning systems. The Community Foundation of the Lowcountry awarded the center a grant for the purchase of new seawater filtration equipment to prepare water for the spawning tanks and recirculating systems.
• WMC has stocked a million spotted sea trout in Charleston waters over the past few years while developing a rapid response stock enhancement program to protect this fragile fishery from severe climate fluctuations and habitat degradation.
• WMC received a research grant to monitor the effects of storm water on Beaufort County’s sensitive saltwater marsh. Working with University of South Carolina Beaufort and Beaufort County, they will develop baseline data to improve the county’s storm water management plan.
• WMC opens its doors to students for tours and lectures. More than 500 students tour the center each year and biologists provided lectures and tours to more than 3,000 guests. Donations made to the Waddell Fund were used to support two full-time college internship positions this year. The center was able to offer volunteer work to five college students, who worked at least one day a week aiding biologists.
• WMC biologists assist SC seafood growers. They provide information and training to state residents when requested. This work is important, as the United States now imports 91 percent of its seafood and seafood farming accounts for 47% of all seafood. The center’s biologists assist state fish pond and coastal impoundment owners by addressing management needs, including water quality, weed control and species management.
• The center is also part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Biologists provide aid and assistance to injured turtles, whales, dolphins, and birds.
Limited reservations are available for the 11th Annual Taste of Waddell. Visit friendsofwaddell.org to register or call Dave Harter at (843) 785-4106. If you are interested in supporting the Waddell Mariculture Center, but cannot attend the event, tax deductible donations are accepted for the Waddell Mariculture Center Fund at: Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, PO Box 23019, Hilton Head Island, SC 29925. For more information, call (843) 681-9100 or go to cf-lowcountry.org.
Written by Amber Hester Kuehn, Marine Biologist. Owner, Spartina Marine Education Charters
The Important Work of the Waddell Mariculture Center
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