by Taylor Shelby
Charleston, South Carolina
April 23, 2005
This was a 2.5-hour tour that left in the late afternoon. We got onboard with Capt. Robert, and he gave us an introduction to the differences between barrier islands (ocean front, have a beach) and sea islands (bay front, surrounded by marsh). He also pointed out some of the birds we kept seeing and told us about the ecosystems of the Carolina coast.
After a short boat ride, we arrived at Capers Island, a national heritage preserved. Now this is a barrier island just north of Isle of Palms that is protected from development. Since the tide was coming in, we quickly got off the boat and headed towards the beach. Capers Island has an amazing "beach boneyard," where there were hundreds of decaying trees. It was really eerie, yet incredibly beautiful. I almost wore out my camera battery taking pictures.
We all met back up at the boat after an hour, and then Capt. Robert told us about the processes of beach erosion and formation. We also talked about the different types of trees, shrubs, and grass that grow in climates and habitats like these. It was great because he used a little model he made right on the beach. He was an ex-fourth-grade teacher, so he knew how to make it interesting, understandable, and fun.
We got back on the boat and went back into the marshes to talk about different mollusks and shell animals. He also gave us a lot of history of the Native Americans and how they taught European colonists to survive eating oysters, mussels, and clams (thanks, guys!).
On the ride back to the marina, we stopped and hauled up a crab trap, and he told us about the different types of crabs you can find. One had a big crop of eggs on her belly, which was really cool. We also learned about the harvesting of crabs. We were lucky enough to catch some dolphins feeding in one of the inlets. One of them surfaced a few feet away from the boat - it was incredible!
It was a little bit cold towards the end, and there was a big storm brewing, but it didn't dampen the trip. I not only had a great time, but I also learned a lot about the natural processes of the islands all around here. I came back feeling much smarter.
From journal Entertaining my Parents in Charleston