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Nature Getaways in South Carolina

by Debra Bokur

Jun 30, 2019

Brett Flashnick

North America

Ready to watch dolphins frolic and fireflies dance? In South Carolina, family adventures can include these activities and much, much more. The waters that make up the mouth of the Kiawah River as it joins the Atlantic Ocean are a great place to observe dolphin pods herd fish onto the riverbanks. The dolphins, who live year-round in the river, work as teams to form a line blocking the river mouth in order to create their own buffet. The phenomenon is known as “strand feeding,” and to date has only been recorded in a handful of places around the globe. Kayak and boat tours to see the dolphins in action are available from Kiawah Island Golf Resort nearby in Charleston.

 

At Congaree National Park near the state’s capital city of Columbia, mating season for the species of firefly known as Phontinus frontalis involves the twinkling insects blinking rapidly in unison. This rare occurrence takes place over a two- to three-week period each year in spring. During this time, the park’s visitor center offers a Fireflies Trail where visitors can enjoy great views of the light show, which only takes places in a few locations worldwide.

 

Sarracenia

Sarracenia. Photo: Dr. Donna Goodman

If you like a little drama in the world of gardens, Moore Farms Botanical Garden has something special on view. Among the Bog Garden’s 2,500 plants are a number of carnivorous species including pitcher plants, honeydew and Venus flytraps that devour moths, bees and beetles. The colorful collection of meat-eaters is one of the largest in the South. Less scary rare plant species such as the Lake Miccosukee gooseberry, false rue anemone, shooting star and Dutchman’s breeches can all be found in Stevens Creek Heritage Preserve in Sumter National Forest in the town of McCormick.

 

Among the many stunning birds likely to be seen by visitors to parts of South Carolina are the endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers that nest in both Cheraw State Park and Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge in Chesterfield County. In Lake Murray near Columbia, summer bird visitors include thousands of Purple Martins that congregate on an island that goes variously by the names Bomb Island, Lunch Island and Doolittle Island. An estimated 800,000 to 1 million purple martins roost here in summer evenings. Boat tours take viewers close to the island during evening tours, when the birds are most visible as they return to roost.

 

Here’s a tip if you have little eco-travelers in tow: Beautiful rocks and empty nests may seem like fun souvenirs to take away, but it’s best to admire them where they are and leave them behind for others to enjoy. Empty nests may appear to be abandoned by their most recent residents, but often become new homes to other birds in need of shelter.

#WhereverFamily

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