Go On A Dolphin Or Beachcombing Ecotour, Watch Sea Turtles Hatch, And Adopt A Nest All At This Underrated South Carolina State Park
South Carolina is blessed with some gorgeous state parks, 47 to be exact. Of those, only four are oceanfront, including Edisto Beach State Park. As much as our other beach areas are adored, this one is much too often passed over . The next time you’re ready for a beach-themed day trip in South Carolina, take a look at all you can experience on Edisto Island.
If you don’t have too long of a drive from where you live in the state or don’t mind a very early start, this is the sunrise view at Edisto Beach State Park.
Stop for coffee at One 4 Coffee at 114 Jungle Road, Unit F once you get to Edisto Beach or after seeing the sunrise.
Plan to arrive at Botany Bay Ecotours ahead of the time the ecotour of your choice starts. Depending on the date of your trip and the scheduling availability of the tours, you could be starting there as early as 8:00 a.m.
Botany Bay Ecotours is located at 3702 Dock Site Road, Dock Slip D 2 on Edisto Island.
Dolphin Boat Ecotours are available during peak season in the spring and summer and are not recommended for children under 4 years old. The tour lasts an hour.
It would be good to keep in mind that because dolphins are wild animals, their presence cannot be guaranteed. The hope is that you will get to experience firsthand their feeding and socializing behaviors while observing from a distance.
But this adventure is also an opportunity to learn about the salt marsh habitat, and you will enjoy seeing a variety of bird species.
If you have a specific interest, such as sea turtles or certain birds, just ask your captain.
Beachcombing Ecotours also last an hour, but there is no age restriction. They should be available at any time during the year as well.
You can expect to learn about shells in general, how to find fossilized shark teeth, how to identify frequently found mollusks, and about animals living below the sand. There’s an abundance of shells to comb through on Edisto Beach. You never know what treasures you may find!
Mid-July through mid-October is the hatching season for loggerhead sea turtles. The Park’s sea turtle patrol completes routine nest inventories that you can request to observe.
During these inventories, three to five days after the nest shows signs of a major emergence they dig down to determine the success of the nest by counting the hatched eggs and unhatched eggs. Sometimes they find live hatchlings. In 2021, this little one stood out because it had two heads, resulting from a genetic mutation. After getting a few photos, it was released into the ocean with the others.
Some observers of nest inventories have gotten to see the hatchlings crawl to the ocean. What an amazing sight!
For just $50, you can adopt a sea turtle nest to support the Park’s efforts to save its loggerhead sea turtles, which have been listed since 1978 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
It's estimated that only 1 in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood, but the ones that do are long-lived and could live 70 to 80 years or more. Female loggerheads reach maturity at about 35 years of age.
Seeing sea turtles during the day is pretty rare, as they typically nest at night.
During summer evenings, turtle walk events are often held by the Park. Island guests have gotten to see the turtles digging their nests or laying eggs. It’s important to know they are easily disturbed and will crawl back to the water, so be sure to stand back at least 20 feet while they are digging and keep very still. Once they are finished and start laying, however, they go into a trance-like state and you can watch them up close.
Visit the South Carolina State Parks website , the South Carolina State Parks Facebook page , and the Botany Bay Ecotours website for more information, including other types of tours available as well. If you could only choose one, dolphins or baby sea turtles? Tell us in the comments below!
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Address: 8377 State Cabin Rd, Edisto Island, SC 29438, USA