Monday, July 14, 2014

Exploring Edisto Island - Dolphin Strand Feeding

Dolphin Watching is a great Lowcountry past time!

Once one becomes immersed in the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry, sometimes special wildlife sightings are revealed. There are many creeks and waterways where sightings of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin are common, swimming along and breathing air from its blowhole. While it is much more rare to witness a dolphin strand feeding in just inches of water in order to eat fish, one drama in the highly evolved food chain of the saltwater estuary.
The best way to get into position to watch for strand feeding behavior is to get on the water via boat, canoe or kayak. Surrounded by acres of spartina marsh grass, which is the nursery grounds for young fish and crustaceans, it becomes clear why these are some of the most productive fishing grounds for dolphins.
Dolphin in shallow water looking for a meal
Some spots on land afford views of tidal creeks where dolphins swim, and visitors can blend in to the maritime forest of pine trees, live oaks and cedar trees while keeping a sharp eye out. Edisto Beach State Park by the Indian Shell Mound offers one such vantage point and Botany Bay WMA overlooks several likely locations on the backside of that barrier island. No doubt there are numerous areas on Edisto Island that offer views of the water, and locating them all can just be part of the outdoor fun.
Some say it’s the gentle slopes found along this part of coastal South Carolina that allows the dolphins to practice strand feeding. The surface of the water can appear serene, but unseen by the human eye the dolphin are rounding up baitfish below. Once they have them corralled they push them towards a mud bank and literally chase them out of the water. Whoosh! The bait will exit the water to try and escape, but the dolphisn have learned that their prey will not escape.

To read the entire feature article click on Explore Edisto and then click yellow bookmark.

Dolphin biology chart
To view past blog entries Exploring Edisto Island click on Botany Bay WMA, or  Surf Fishing, or Bird Watching or Quail Hunting, or Governor's Cup.

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