By Nolan Schillerstrom
A Crucial Lowcountry nesting ground is washing away.
For decades, Crab Bank has played an important role in supporting South Carolina’s coastal bird populations. At its peak, this tiny island near the mouth of Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant was home to 5,000 nesting birds at one time.
Due to erosion from increasing wakes and a series of intense hurricanes, this Seabird Sanctuary island is now experiencing its first year ever with zero nests—and the fate of those coastal birds that have always considered Crab Bank “home” hangs in the balance.
The planned deepening of the Charleston Harbor presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore this critical avian habitat using the sand dredged from the channel. But South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources must raise an estimated $1.5 million by December of 2018 to make the project a reality.
So we’re asking local leaders, businesses, organizations, and nature lovers alike to join us in our mission to Save Crab Bank—and be a part of the largest conservation project that South Carolina’s coast has ever seen.
Why Crab Bank?
Once upon a time, coastal birds had the run of some 3,000 undisturbed islands off South Carolina’s coasts. Today, Crab Bank is one of only five islands remaining that offers all the protections these birds need to successfully nest and raise their young.
The decline of this vital nesting habitat is bad news for bird lovers in South Carolina, and even worse for our declining populations of coastal birds. In North America, seabirds have declined by an alarming 70% since the 1950s; and shorebirds are declining at an even faster rate, decreasing 70% since the 1970s.
Crab Bank also provides a unique opportunity for hundreds of thousands of people every year to experience and learn about the intense nesting process of coastal birds like Brown Pelicans, Royal Terns, and Black Skimmers. Kayakers, Shem Creek Park walkers, and restaurant-goers alike all encounter these magnificent birds because of Crab Bank. Thousands of local school children have paddled around Crab Bank and local homeowners and businesses also benefit from the protection the island provides from wind, waves, and storm surge.
You are a Bird’s Hope
If you’re reading this, you understand that South Carolina’s beautiful surroundings and abundant wildlife create tangible value for our state and coastal communities. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to Save Crab Bank, and be a part of the largest conservation project that our coast has ever seen. You can donate at sc.audubon.org/crabbank.
Nolan Schillerstrom is the Coastal Program Coordinator with Audubon South Carolina.