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South Carolina Sunrises and Strand Feeding Dolphins

South Carolina Sunrises and Strand Feeding Dolphins

Did you know? That South Carolina is one of the only places in the world where dolphins strand feed on a near daily basis! 

But what is strand feeding? This unique behavior named for the momentary beaching (or stranding) as the dolphins push their prey ashore before they slide back into the water. This is a learned behavior that is passed down from mother to calf, not all dolphins are able to strand feed. In fact, only a handful of the nearly 350 resident dolphins around Charleston, South Carolina actually know how to strand feed.

While other species of marine mammals have been observed stand feeding, the dolphins near Kiawah Island are seen nearly daily partaking in this practice. What sets Kiawah Island apart from the rest of the world is it is considered one of the most accessible places to observe this unique behavior.

Recently, I woke up at four in the morning to catch the sunrise, and to time my visit perfectly around low tide. Scientists and volunteers have observed that two hours before low tide and two hours after low tide are the best times of day to see strand feeding. This gives dolphin enthusiasts a four-hour window to wait in awe. My visit lasted over six hours waiting and watching for those innovative fishing techniques- and I was treated to three different strand feedings.

For my complete Strand Feeding Guide: Dolphin Strand Feeding South Carolina

6 Tips for Seeing Strand Feeding: VIDEO Seeing Strand Feeding Dolphins in South Carolina

Bottlenose dolphin strand feeding
Bottlenose dolphin strand feeding off Kiawah Island, South Carolina

Keeping South Carolina’s Dolphins Safe

South Carolina is extremely lucky to have a resident dolphin population with individuals that practice strand feeding. Seeing this amazing behavior is an unforgettable experience, but it is a delicate behavior that can easily be disrupted. To ensure that the dolphins’ natural behaviors are not disturbed please practice these guidelines when viewing stranding feeding. And for additional information visit Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network to learn more.  

·Do not approach strand feeding dolphins from shore- stay back at least 15 yards (45 feet) to reduce disturbance.

·Remember it is illegal to feed and touch marine mammals, do not attempt to wade in and approach the dolphins.

Bottlenose dolphin strand feeding in Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Successful strand feeding behavior from Kiawah Island, South Carolina.