Funds provide needed upgrades at Waddell Mariculture Center

Both the human researchers at Bluffton’s Waddell Mariculture Research and Development Center and their charges — important fish species native to Port Royal Sound — are now safer and more comfortable, thanks to a series of renovations and upgrades nearing completion.

The changes include everything from shoring up a crumbling concrete second-story office floor, to the installment of new climate-control and filtration systems that allows the facility to more safely and efficiently raise fish at its indoor hatchery.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS ALWAYS A PRIORITY AS SOUTHERN BEAUFORT COUNTY GROWS

Newcomers often sense the difference when they visit southern Beaufort County for the first time. The development ambience of Hilton Head Island and Bluffton has a different feel from other places. Most can’t put their finger on the difference, but they know it’s real. 

The land itself is similar to other locations along the Carolinas and Georgia coast, but there is something special here. 

USCB STUDENT FROM HILTON HEAD JOINS SHARK RESEARCH TEAM

Could bacteria on the skin of sharks be a source of new antibiotics for humans? The answer to this and many other questions may come from research conducted by scientists affiliated with OCEARCH, including the University of South Carolina Beaufort’s Dr. Kim Ritchie and her student assistant, Lincoln Fuller of Hilton Head Island.

SEA TURTLE PATROL, TURTLE TRACKERS VOLUNTEERS DEDICATED TO THE CAUSE

At 5 a.m., most people are still sleeping or slowly starting their day. But Amber Kuehn and the dedicated members of Sea Turtle Patrol Hilton Head Island embody the term “early risers.”  

Before sunrise, Kuehn, Sea Turtle Patrol HHI manager, and members of the nonprofit group head to the beach in a coordinated effort to preserve the lives and spread awareness of sea turtles.  

HELP SCIENTISTS LEARN ABOUT OUR MOST FASCINATING WILDLIFE

Admit it: You may not always see them, but you always look for them.

Sneaking a quick glance from the Cross Island Parkway and the bridges that connect Hilton Head Island to the mainland, most of us scan the waters below for the tell-tale fins of bottlenose dolphins as they break the surface.

LOCAL SCUBA FANS TAKE EXPLORATION TO NEW DEPTHS, URGE BOATER CAUTION

The first time Matt Garbade went scuba diving in the May River, the darkness was unsettling. But coming back up to the surface was even more harrowing. 

Garbade is one of a growing number of divers who brave the Lowcountry’s murky waters in search of treasures, and while he’s grown accustomed to exploring the river bed with limited visibility, he still feels uneasy about coming back to the surface because of boaters who don’t always heed the warnings that divers are in the area. 

CYPRESS AND TUPELO GIANTS STAND GUARD AT EBENEZER CREEK

A kayak and canoe trail winds through the tupelo-cypress swamp at Ebenezer Creek. Locals know that paddling is the best way to experience this unique habitat. 

“This is a wild and scenic waterway,” said Brian Cohen of Backwater Expeditions, an adventure outfitter helping people explore this protected wetland. “It’s fed by several artesian springs.” 

TOWN OFFICIALS SEEK SOLUTIONS TO BACTERIA LEVELS

He’s spotting more bottlenose dolphins in the May River than ever, and the oysters, fish and crabs seem to be doing fine. But Larry Toomer, owner of Bluffton Oyster Co., has noticed that new homes are springing up on the river’s banks and boat traffic has increased — not always good omens for the river’s health. 

“I’ve been working on the May River for 30 years and I’m out there almost every day, weather permitting,” he said. “From the water you can see it. Everybody wants to live on the river.”

HELP RARE AND COMMON SPECIES RECOVER WITH THESE SIMPLE STEPS

Can you imagine what life would be like without seeing birds soaring overhead, or hearing them sing as we awaken or set off for a walk on a beautiful summer day?

If something isn’t done to reverse a worrying trend, this scenario is not far-fetched.

PINCKNEY ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE

More than 14 miles of gravel roads and grass trails wind through Pinckney Island, providing visitor access to a wide range of habitats, including salt marsh, forestland, brushland, fallow fields and freshwater ponds.