Project

Save Crab Bank


It doesn’t take much: You can rent a kayak and paddle in 15 minutes to one of the few places on the Atlantic coast where you can watch sea and shorebirds nesting — right here in South Carolina.

Crab Bank, in the heart of Charleston’s harbor near Shem Creek, is a bird sanctuary unlike any other. For more than a half-century, the island has been home to brown pelicans, black skimmers, royal terns, American oystercatchers, and other migratory and threatened birds. In a single summer, Crab Bank hosted as many as 5,000 nests, and, from its shore, young birds have begun life and learned to fish and play.

Crab Bank is a critical economic driver for small restaurants, shops, and outfitters on one of the state’s last working creeks. More than 10,000 people every year paddle from Shem Creek to see the bank and its wildlife up close. The island contributes to coastal tourism, scientific research, and outdoor education.

But Crab Bank is washing away. Wind, waves, and harsh storms have taken their toll. High tides roll over the bank daily. This year, no birds nested there.

More than a year ago, the Conservation League teamed up with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, conservation partners, and an outfitter, Coastal Expeditions, to find a solution — use sand dredged during the Charleston Harbor’s deepening project to rebuild the bank. The Army Corps of Engineers has studied the opportunity extensively. The Corps found compatible sand, developed a plan for restoration and is prepared to rebuild Crab Bank. But it costs money, and we needed our community to come together to make it happen.

The project requires about $1.5 million in local matching funds by the time dredging in the Lower Harbor is underway in Spring 2019. With you on our side, we were able to meet our goal and Crab Bank will be restored in tandem with the Post-45 Harbor Deepening project. We cannot thank you enough for helping us bring this critical habitat back for our coastal birds! 

How can you help?

Advocate for coastal bird habitat and policies that protect the environment they depend on, support the Coastal Bird Conservation Program, and read the tips below for ways to share our beaches with nesting and resting birds.

The latest news

Crab Bank’s birds

Year-round residents

Birds that nest there during the summer 

Birds that rest and feed on Crab Bank over the winter

How can you help protect sea and shorebirds?

Beyond making a financial contribution toward Crab Bank’s restoration, there are several things you can do to protect sea and shorebirds (and the fragile habitat they rely on). Here are a few tips to remember when you see these coastal birds:


Contact Us

[email protected] · 843.723.8035

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