Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary was established to protect nesting habitat of seabirds and shorebirds. The sanctuary encompasses approximately 22 acres at the mouth of Shem Creek in Charleston Harbor. Crab Bank supports colonies of nesting waterbirds because of its isolated nature and lack of mammalian predators. Species nesting on Crab Bank include: Brown Pelican, Royal Tern, Sandwich
Tern, Black Skimmer, Gull-billed Tern, Laughing Gull and American Oystercatcher. Willet, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Tricolored Heron also nest on the island. Besides providing nesting habitat, the sanctuary provides winter resting and feeding areas for numerous species. Nesting colonies of waterbirds are spectacular in appearance not only to bird watchers, but also to anyone appreciative of the diversity of nature. They are important to humans because they are indicators of environmental quality and ecosystem health.
Unfortunately, many waterbird species are declining because of the direct impacts of human activities. The areas on which they nest, feed and winter are also at risk due to human-related and natural threats. There are only five islands in South Carolina where Brown Pelicans, Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns nest. Seabird sanctuaries like Crab Bank are critical for the survival of these iconic coastal birds. Species nesting on these estuarine islands typically find a territory and mate in March, and build nests and lay eggs in April and May. Many younger birds do not leave nesting islands until October.
Therefore, the sanctuary is closed to public use from March 15 through October 15. The area may be viewed from boats during these months and is accessible to the public below the high-water tidal line from October 16 through March 14. Dogs are prohibited year-round and camping is not allowed. The South Carolina Aquarium, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League have partnered with Spy On A Bird, LLC to place a camera on Crab Bank from March through October, when humans are not allowed on the island. The live feed from this camera can be viewed in the Ocean Gallery at the South Carolina Aquarium, and online at www.charlestonharborwildlife.com/iwa/cbss.