Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the history of Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary?

Crab Bank was originally formed with the placement of dredged material in the 1950s. Over time, Crab Bank eroded with wind and wave action, tropical storms and hurricanes. In the early 2000s, Crab Bank was approximately 23 acres; in 2017, Hurricane Irma washed away most of the remaining high ground, removing any opportunity for nesting birds at this Seabird Sanctuary in 2018.

 

Where did the money come from to undertake this project?

Recognizing the need for a strategy to identify funding for Crab Bank, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) worked with Audubon South Carolina, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and the Coastal Expeditions Foundation to make the success of Crab Bank a reality. The staff of these organizations’ expertise, experience and relationships within the community and amongst conservationists were vital to the success of this project. With their help and support, SCDNR received funds from the public, non-profits, and businesses into the SCDNR’s Coastal Bird Conservation Program. 

Entities such as Boeing SC, BP, Ducks Unlimited, the Post & Courier Foundation, the S.C. Ports Authority, and hundreds of individual citizens in the Charleston region contributed funds to support the restoration of Crab Bank with the SCDNR, Audubon South Carolina, Coastal Conservation League and the Coastal Expeditions Foundation. An effort led by students at Moultrie Middle School in Mt. Pleasant added $675 to the total funds raised. In addition to the private funds raised, a $700,000 grant awarded to Audubon South Carolina by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Coastal Resiliency Grant Program took fundraising efforts across the finish line contributing $66,216 towards  Crab Bank restoration.

As a part of the fundraising efforts, the SCDNR established the Coastal Bird Conservation program under the Nongame and Natural Areas Trust Fund (SC Code of Laws §50-1-280). The program established a means for SCDNR to collect donations to support the successful renourishment of Crab Bank and ensure any excess in funds collected not needed by the Crab Bank project could draw interest and help finance and leverage grant dollars to support projects for a variety of waterbirds – from pelicans and terns to wood storks and black rails – up and down the South Carolina Coast. These funds are available for use by SCDNR for critical projects to help protect and restore habitats, address information and research needs, provide education and outreach for waterbird awareness and increase nesting success.

 

What is SCDNR’s role in protecting and managing coastal bird populations?

South Carolina is home to many coastal bird species, including seabirds, shorebirds and wading birds –collectively known as waterbirds. Our state plays a vital role in the lives of these species by providing habitat for nesting, wintering and migration stopover. SCDNR protects areas where these birds roost, feed, nest and raise their young. 

SCDNR biologists:

  • monitor population trends,

  • manage and enhance habitat, and

  • conduct research to better understand stressors to coastal bird populations.

 

What is the S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation program?

The S.C. Coastal Bird Conservation Program (SCCBC) is a designated fund held within the SCDNR that is solely used to support SCDNR management and protection of waterbirds. These funds are available for use by SCDNR for critical projects to help protect and restore habitats, address information and research needs, provide education and outreach for waterbird awareness and increase nesting success.

 

Are there specific projects that SCCBC is involved in besides Crab Bank?

In addition to Crab Bank, SCCBC has also supported the creation of a Shorebird Steward to protect and monitor shorebirds and seabirds in the Cape Romain Region during nesting season.

The Cape Romain Shorebird Steward position, funded by SCCB, was a great partnership between SCDNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). In the future, additional Stewards may be established in other critical areas of the coast to help increase nesting success and provide community awareness for the continued protections of shorebirds.

 

What else?

SCCBC will focus on four priorities in evaluating and establishing future projects/goals.

  • Restoring and protecting habitat:
    Managing habitats, including the use of “Living shorelines,” will be a key part of meeting this goal. Instead of using hardened structures, such as bulkheads, revetment, and concrete seawalls which often increase the rate of coastal erosion and remove the ability of the shoreline to carry out natural processes, the “living shorelines” approach uses plants, sand, and limited use of rock to provide shoreline protection and maintain valuable habitat. A variety of structural and organic materials, such as wetland plants, submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster reefs, fiber logs, sand fill, and stone are parts of the living shoreline method of erosion control.
     

  • Increasing nesting success:
    Reducing disturbances to critical nesting areas and addressing potential predators are both critical components of helping more birds nest successfully. Waterbirds are very sensitive to disturbance. When people, pets, or vehicles approach too closely to a nest or colony, adults will depart and leave the eggs or chicks temporarily exposed to the elements or nearby predators. Placing signs demarcating nesting areas help educate the public and can reduce nest loss.

 

  • Building community awareness:
    Teaching communities about the environment and its associated problems, making them aware of the solutions motivates people to work together to improve surrounding conditions. The added benefits of environmental education can improve people’s lives. It connects people to the environment, heightening their imagination and enthusiasm. Outdoor experiences promote healthy lifestyles and strengthens communities.

 

  • Increasing scientific/biological knowledge:
    Increasing monitoring can ensure continued stability of waterbird species. Obtaining better population estimates for nesting species allows us to evaluate changes in population numbers, trends, and habitat use. Waterbird monitoring is a means for checking wetland systems because waterbirds are proven to serve as sentinels for the health of our marine environment. For example, pelican populations plummeted with widespread use of pesticides, such as DDT in the 1940's, due to lack of breeding success. This alerted scientists to the dangers of pesticides which caused the prohibition of DDT-use in the United States.