John Wells, Seabrook Island Town Council, and Lauren Rust, executive director of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network, have spearheaded a program to educate residents and visitors about the dolphin strand feeding that occurs on our island.
This unique way of gathering fish means several dolphins gather around the shoreline and herd small fish onto the beach. They then literally lurch themselves out of the water to pick up the fish to eat. It is a spectacular sight to see and only occurs on a few beaches. There is also no guarantee that if you go out to the beach you will see them stranding.
Some of the rules to observe when watching the dolphins strand are Federal Laws and some are common sense. Federal Law requires boats to be at least 50 yards from dolphins to prevent bothering or feeding them. It is also illegal to feed them. This is mainly for the protection of the dolphins. If you feed them, they will not learn to search for food on their own.
The Education Program recommends that you stay about 15 yards away from them and to be as quiet as possible. Not only is this for the protection of the dolphin, but it will increase the chance of you seeing them strand.
John and Lauren gathered twelve volunteers to inform people about the rules and regulations. Their shifts are 4 hours long – beginning 2 hours before low tide, ending 2 hours after low tide. No shifts begin before 7:00 am and end no later than 15 minutes before sunset.
Thank you to everyone for protecting our dolphins and enabling us to see this phenomenal sight!
(Photo credits: John Wells and scwildlife.com-Patricia Schaefer)