A few days ago I shared with you our close encounter with blue crabs in a tide pool. Today, I had another close encounter, but with a much larger critter.
The marsh directly off the second boardwalk. This is where I go down into the marsh, sometimes in knee deep water, to look for critters for my program participants.
I had a fantastic group of kids from the Jasper County Boy’s and Girl’s Club out on the salt marsh at the Coastal Discovery Museum this morning.We talked about what critters live in the marsh, and which ones don’t, including frogs, snakes, and alligators, and how on the rare instance that an alligator is spotted in the marsh, it is because it is just passing through on its way elsewhere.
I did my usual tromping through the marsh off the second boardwalk to see what sort of critters I could scrounge up for the kiddos to inspect before we headed to the covered observation deck at the end the boardwalk. We had not been under the glorious shade of that deck for more than a few minutes before the children started shouting that there was an alligator in the marsh! I’m thinking surely not, they just have alligators on the brain, a common occurrence for children and tourists alike. But I’ll be darned if they weren’t right!
If you look right in the center of the photo, between the two sections of Spartina grass, you will see the head of the critter headed straight for us.
Yep, that’s right! An alligator in the salt marsh, mere feet from where I had been in the marsh myself just a few minutes before.
I told everyone that I was done with the marsh walking for the day, lol. Despite being a bit scary, the kids were so excited to see the gator that it made my day.
Fiddler Crab Cove is the most scenic of the boardwalks (in my humble opinion), and a fantastic place for your family photos.
As the countdown to spring break continues, this week’s featured place is the Coastal Discovery Museum, located just off of William Henry Parkway (278) in the north end of the island. I’m getting excited, are you?
Leatherback Nest at Beach Marker 101
Loggerheads account for 99% of the nesting sea turtles on Hilton Head Island, with the most endangered species, the Leatherback, having only nested here a handful of times in the past 20 years. The Leatherback usually nests in the warmer waters of Florida, the Caribbean, and Central/South America, although for unknown reasons there has been an increase in nesting farther north.
This year there were two Leatherback nests on the island, with one nest chamber located and marked. The first was laid on May 8 and after reaching the max incubation period of 75 days with no sign of emergence (hatchlings!), members of the HHI Sea Turtle Protection Program opened the nest to check viability. Three eggs were “candlewicked” (a light shown through them); two were unfertilized, but one had a viable hatchling. The team member could even feel the babe moving around in the egg!!. The SC Dept. of Natural Resources advised the team to return the eggs to the nest and monitor an additional 10 days.
I was finishing a Beach Discovery Tour at Mitchelville Beach yesterday when one of the guests found a large spider high up in a tree and asked what it was. I honestly don’t know a lot about spiders so I zoomed in, snapped a photo, and promised an answer by that evening to be posted to the Facebook page. Unfortunately my photo turned out to be very poor and the best I could come up with that it was a Yellow (or White) Banded Garden Spider.
I had another tour group this morning and was able to snap some better photos.
Baby Alligators and Diamondback Terrapins
One of the programs offered by the Coastal Discovery Museum is an opportunity to “meet and greet” some of the critters that inhabit the lowcountry. Guests learn about the critters that inhabit the island and have the opportunity to touch and hold many of the animals, including alligators and snakes, but also some more traditionally “touchable” critters like rabbits.
Just chillin’ with the children.