Traveling through the Charleston Harbor on a Charleston Harbor Tour exposes you to hundreds of animal species in the water, on the surrounding land and in the sky. Some of these are seen in few other places and are considered endangered on the American continent. Others are constant companions.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Loggerhead Turtle – Our local sea turtle is a conservation priority, so much so that a plan to put lights atop the Cooper River Bridge was scuttled to accommodate newly hatched turtles. Hatchlings are born in the dunes and must scamper into the ocean to begin their lives. Every year, loggerheads are saved and returned to the sea by the South Carolina Aquarium, which you can see on one of our package tours.
Brown Pelican – Poet Ogden Nash wrote: “A wonderful bird is the pelican. His bill will hold more than his belly can.” These big fish hunters can be seen lingering in the air before crashing into the water to snare a meal.
Manatee – The original inspiration for mermaids, these social mammals wander into our waters during the summer and can sometimes be seen lolling underneath water spigots alongside boat docks. Friendly and curious, the main threats to sea cows are boat collisions and loss of habitat.
Atlantic Bottle-nosed Dolphin – One of the world’s most intelligent animals, these aquatic mammals can be seen regularly in Lowcountry waterways swimming, feeding and cavorting. They love to engage humans by playing alongside boats.
Wood Stork – The population of these magnificent black and white wading birds has spiked in recent years to more than 2,000. They are easily identified by their snowy-white body, long beak and five-foot wing span.
Blue Crab – Their Latin name means “beautiful swimmer,” making them a prized catch in Charleston’s waters. Abundant, easily spotted, and delicious, blue crabs skirt the shores of the harbor and lay 2,000 eggs per brood.
Least Tern – Striking little birds about the size of a robin that have lost nearly all their habitat in South Carolina to human activity. Sanctuaries on Crab Bank and Castle Pinckney, both along the Charleston Harbor, have provided them with opportunities to thrive. Easy to spot, they have white or gray bodies, jet black heads and sharp yellow beaks that stab at small fish.