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
- “ ‘You had a bunch of folks come in this morning, a lot of different walks of life to say there is something special about the Tri-county area and the Lowcountry in the way that we look and feel as a community and it’s worth being proactive about protecting unique spots in the Lowcountry,’ Sanford said.” (Live 5 News, October 1, 2018)
- “Teachers and students at Moultrie Middle School raised hundreds to help the Crab Bank renourishment project in Mount Pleasant last month.” (Moultrie News, November 1, 2018)
- “Boeing contributed to the ongoing renourishment project that began over a year ago by donating $100,000 to the South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation Program. A day later the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) jumped on board by submitting a grant of $700,000 toward the effort.” (Moultrie News, November 8, 2018)
- “The effort to restore the heavily eroded Crab Bank, once home to a major shorebird rookery in Charleston Harbor, has received a $25,000 donation from the S.C. Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.” (Post and Courier, December 21, 2018)
- “The Coastal Conservation League was presented with a check for $50,000 from the Barrier Island Friends of Crab Bank, represented by Sullivan’s Island resident and Crab Bank advocate Rick Reed.” (Island Eye News, February 6, 2019)
Crab Bank’s birds
Birds that nest there during the summer
- Black Skimmers
- Royal Terns
- Gull-billed Terns
- Sandwich Terns
- Laughing Gulls
- American Oystercatchers
Birds that rest and feed on Crab Bank over the winter
- Brown Pelicans
- Double-crested Cormorants
- Ring-billed Gulls
- Greater Black-backed Gulls
- Black-bellied Plovers
- Semipalmated Plovers
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:
- Remember to pack up any food or trash you brought to the beach
- Prevent young children (and adults!) from running and “flushing” birds, even when birds are resting in the intertidal zone
- Do not walk near areas of the beach that are closed to nesting birds
- Give nesting pelicans, terns, skimmers and chicks plenty of space
- Do not bring your dog to the beach if a “No Dogs” law is in effect
- Support the work of the South Carolina Coastal Bird Conservation Program and organizations like the Coastal Conservation League, Audubon South Carolina, South Carolina Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources