Just in case you didn’t see the news, the Post and Courier’s front page on Wednesday featured a great article about Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary’s incredible nesting success in 2023. This is the second year that nesting has occurred on Crab Bank since it was rebuilt using dredged material from the Charleston Harbor deepening, and at least 2,600 birds and their fledglings used the restored bank this past summer!
You may remember that in 2018, we joined with partners at South Carolina Audubon, Coastal Expeditions Foundation and Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) to raise $1.4 million to form SCDNR’s Coastal Bird Conservation Program, which restored Crab Bank and continues to fund projects to secure coastal bird populations all along the South Carolina coast. This past summer, funds from the program were used by SCDNR to hire a steward to protect red knots on Kiawah Island. Three satellite tags were also obtained and deployed on red knots visiting our beaches to track their amazing migration to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Hurricanes, high tides and rising water made the previously abundant Crab Bank all but impossible for seabirds to use for nesting. In Crab Bank’s second successful nesting season the birds are back mostly in larger numbers, and American oystercatchers, gull-billed terns, least terns, and black skimmers are some of the species that called Crab Bank their summer home.
This is particularly good news because another seabird sanctuary, Deveaux Bank, wedged between Edisto and Seabrook Islands, suffered severe erosional impacts and lost most of its high ground in 2023 after hurricane Idalia hit our shores coinciding with astronomical high tides. Our staff continue to work with our partners to support long term protections for these islands to safeguard this vital habitat for generations to come.