We love a chance to celebrate around here. January 31 was a full moon, the second in January, which makes it a blue moon. And a supermoon, when it’s closer to the earth than usual, bringing big tides. And a lunar eclipse, which unfortunately happened for us just after moonset, though we were able to see a few minutes. It’s one of the things I really love about living here~ the connections with our neighbors (and Captain Rick and Joey) when something awesome happens in the natural world and we take a moment to celebrate. Alicia led the charge, figuring out that we would have a great chance to view the supermoon as it was setting just BEFORE the departure of the 6:30 ferry with several folks headed to work and school. So we packed up some hot cocoa and camera equipment and headed out. Rick and Joey were just pulling in on the ferry, and we all had a few minutes to brave the icy winds and watch the moon. I didn’t want to spoil it with a flash, so here are some grainy pictures of the fun we had, all giggles and mittens.
When we got there, the moon was big and full and beautiful:
And when we zoomed in, we could see that the eclipse was just beginning:
The perfect spot for a warm beverage
And that group got on the ferry, and more neighbors arrived:
As the sun began to light the eastern horizon, the shadow of the eclipse deepened on the moon, and as it got closer to the horizon the color shifted, the clouds moved in, and it appeared even larger:
And then the show was over, except for the beautiful day that was beginning. The 7:00 ferry arrived just as it was getting light:
We even flew the drone out to see the moon and the high tides:
Thanks to Alicia, who came across this video online, and posted it in the owners facebook group:
Our interns live on the island in a two-bedroom apartment, and depending on their job, might assist with arriving rental clients, walk for the turtle team, spend several nights a week up in the Cape Romain National Wildlife turtle program, or even (new this year) assist with Coyote Research.
Dewees Island summer interns often go from here to jobs in the hospitality field, or to DNR, the SC Aquarium, and even farther afield. It’s our goal to provide them with a great base of skills from which to apply for the job of their dreams.
Here is more information and how to apply for the coyote internship.
The Dewees Island community wishes to better understand how many coyotes are on island, how they utilize the island, are they impacting the mammal population, how are they integrating into the existing ecosystem and how residents can coexist. A Coyote Intern position funded by the Dewees Island Conservancy will assist in answering these questions. The Coyote intern will be responsible for conservation and educational activities on Dewees Island relating to coyotes & associated habitat as well as interactions with other mammal species. The Intern’s responsibilities will include coyote research (monitoring trail cameras, scat surveys, potential impacts on other wildlife, etc.), shorebird and wading bird surveys, wildlife spotlight surveys, sea turtle nest monitoring, caring for animals in the nature center, creating educational displays, leading interpretative education programs relating to wildlife, and other resource management projects as needed. Ferry access from the Isle of Palms, dormitory housing and golf cart transportation will be provided while on Dewees Island by Dewees Island POA. Send letter of interest and resume to email@example.com by January 26.
Here is more information and how to apply for a hospitality internship.
Looking for two smart, energetic, entrepreneurial interns to join our vacation rental business on gorgeous Dewees Island during the summer months. We are a small local business and manage 10 short-term vacation rental homes and 4 suites. Our interns live on the island and are our eyes and ears on the ground. It is important to have excellent communication and problem solving skills. As a rental business, we never know what the day has in store, so we must be flexible and ready for anything that comes our way! Our interns must have a strong work ethic and excel at working independently. They must have a willingness to assist in all situations. Interns must be comfortable being surrounded by nature. Dewees is a wonderful mixture of forest, marsh, and beach. Bugs, snakes, alligators and mosquitoes are all a part of life on Dewees. We are on an island after all! Send resume and letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is more information and how to apply for a sea turtle conservation internship.
Dewees Island is a privately developed ferry access barrier island south of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and north of Charleston, SC. The Dewees community has a strong environmental focus, with approximately 64 homes, native landscaping, sand roads, and golf cart transportation. There are no commercial interests such as stores or restaurants on this isolated barrier island. Dewees Island is home to an abundance of wildlife including white tailed deer, American alligators, wading birds and shorebirds. Cape Island, SC is an undeveloped remote barrier island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge which
averages well over 1,000 loggerhead sea turtle nests each season. Sea turtle activity accounts for almost 1/3 of all nests in South Carolina. The lack of access to the remote island makes it challenging for federal biologists and volunteers to do beach patrols, nest relocation, nursery maintenance, predator removal, nest inventories, and nesting turtle research. Early morning small boat access is required during the summer nesting season.
A Naturalist / Sea Turtle Technician Internship funded by the Dewees Island Conservancy helps meet the needs of both islands. Two-three days per week on Dewees Island is required to assist in leading interpretative education programs, shorebird and wading bird surveys, trail camera surveys, wildlife surveys, sea turtle beach patrol, animal husbandry, creating educational publications and other projects as needed. Ferry access from the Isle of Palms, dormitory housing and golf cart transportation will be provided while on Dewees Island by
Dewees Island POA.
The Intern will also spend 2-3 days per week helping the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge conduct sea turtle beach patrols, nest relocation, and nest inventories; dormitory housing is provided on the mainland (Awendaw, SC). Boat access to the Islands with Refuge Biologist and seasonal staff is provided. Transportation is not provided between the Isle of Palms and Awendaw.
The intern shall report directly to both the Dewees Island Conservancy Program Director on Dewees Island and the US Fish & Wildlife Chief Biologist on the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge The full-time seasonal position runs May 7 – August 17, 2018.
The Naturalist/Sea Turtle Intern will receive housing and a stipend of $1650 for the 15-week internship.
• Minimum three years undergraduate work in resource management, marine biology, wildlife ecology or
• Minimum 9 months of experience leading interpretative or environmental educational programs.
• Outgoing, self-motivated and independent personality; strong communication and leadership skills
• Prior sea turtle nesting management experience preferred (additional training provided).
• Basic knowledge of shorebird and wading bird identification strongly desired.
• Basic knowledge of South Carolina flora and fauna; knowledge of barrier island ecology strongly
• Ability to work a non-standard work day, including weekends, holidays and night shifts.
• Ability to endure extreme summer and outdoor conditions (heat, bugs, salt, sand, etc.).
• Ability to carry heavy equipment (up to 50 lbs.)
• Ability to operate an ATV vehicle (training provided).
• Ability to work and live independently in an extremely remote island lifestyle.
• Boating experience preferred.
• Ability to provide own transportation between remote work sites.
• Lead interpretative educational programs to guests and residents on Dewees Island.
• Conduct early morning or late evening beach patrols on assigned day to identify sea turtle nests and/or
stranded sea turtles.
• Conduct early morning or late evening wildlife surveys.
• Provide care and maintenance of animals and displays in the Dewees Island Nature Center.
• Create educational publications and displays relating to conservation and post information in the Nature
Center and on the Dewees Island Conservancy web site and Facebook page.
• Promote and practice stewardship of the all barrier island facilities, properties, and research equipment.
• Assist in facilitation of research projects by visiting scientists as directed by the Refuge Biologist or the
Dewees Island Conservancy Program Director.
• Understand and agree to dormitory and shared housing regulations. Housing at both locations is a
shared co-ed living space and personal effects are NOT provided (linens, toiletries, etc.).
• Ability to provide your own transportation between Awendaw, SC and the Dewees Island Ferry Landing
on Isle of Palms (approximately 20 miles). Remote locations; public transportation is not available.
HOW TO APPLY:
Email cover letter, resume, and names/phone numbers of three references to:
Dewees Island Conservancy at email@example.com
Please list Naturalist/Sea Turtle Internship in the subject line.
Deadline to apply: Friday, January 26, 2018
Snow in the South is wonderful. It has a kind of magic and mystery that it has nowhere else. And the reason for this is that it comes to people of the South not as a grim, unyielding tenant of Winter’s keep, but as a strange and wild visitor from the secret North.*
It’s a rare thing, a snow day on Dewees. January 3 2018 gave us the biggest snowfall any of us can remember and some of the coldest temps in 60 years. It’s taken me a few days to get this stuff posted, because we’re either outside reveling in this crazy snowfall, warming up, or sleeping off the exhaustion. Dewees was treated to a rare winter storm this week. Sure, there are challenges: most houses are not insulated for this kind of cold, pipes freezing, water lines freezing, the possibility of no power, road and bridge closures elsewhere in Charleston mean the ferry staff can’t safely get to work, etc. And let’s not forget the fact that golf carts don’t have snow tires! But those are largely solvable, and there is something about a snowstorm that brings out the kid in each of us.
The kids were not supposed to be at school until Thursday, but once the forecast looked like we might actually see precipitation, they first moved the date to Friday and now Tuesday, so we have plenty of time to enjoy a few more days of vacation. Truth be told, we were skeptical… once the forecast called for more than 2 inches of snow (which would be more than we’ve ever seen here) we figured being surrounded by water would minimize that and we’d get mostly ice, like we did in 2014. Or snow that didn’t really stick around, like in 2010. To our incredulous delight, we were wrong! We started with beautiful ice, and then got to experience fluffy flakes and accumulating snow for hours on Wednesday.
Meeting friends on the beach…
So naturally, we had to get out and play:
On Thursday, the sun rose on something I have never seen before: a frozen impoundment.
But the sun provided us with some gorgeous backdrops to make the ice, and icicles sparkle:
It is truly bizarre and beautiful to see familiar landscapes utterly transformed by snow:
As it melted, it hung together better so we could experiment with snow people and animals:
Some of us gathered up at the helicopter pad to throw snowballs, try surfing on snow, etc.
Here’s a quick video of some of the action:
If you have your own storm stories or snapshots, please share in the comments or send them to us. We’ll be playing: with no school until at least Tuesday and the Charleston airport saying they will not open until Monday… it’s an adventure! Happy winter, y’all.
If you missed the kids holiday concert on the island, here’s a quick video to give you to get a taste.
On December 16, Huyler House was the site of some joyous merriment as some young island residents and friends delighted us with a holiday concert. Meaghan Bonds, an Ashley Hall senior who lives on the island with her parents Ronnie and Susan, led the afternoon. She and her friend Ann Sheridan began with some string duets, and even some Irish Fiddling.
They played several pieces, while a full house of proud parents and impressed neighbors gathered.
Sam Henshaw played the clarinet while his father Jim dusted off his high school trumpet to accompany him:
Emma McDaniel did a great rendition of White Christmas:
And Cole and Ian Mortimer led the group in a rousing chorus of Rudolph. (you’ll have to check the video for this one)
And Meaghan finished the evening with The Christmas Song.
Sponsored by the arts council, the event was well attended. After the music ended, there were cookies and drinks.
Dewees Island, like other communities, has been wrestling with the new habitation of coyotes on our island. We are still learning what it means to coexist with coyotes on the island as this incredibly adaptable predator colonizes our coastal island. We first noticed the presence of coyotes in late summer 2016, and by early summer 2017 we were seeing them regularly and kits were playing on the beach. Lori has assembled a lot of information on this page: scroll to the bottom for the info about coyotes.
This fall, sightings have continued to increase, and residents have a lot of concerns and questions.
As part of understanding coyote wildlife biology, she invited Sean Poppy, of the Savannah River Ecology Lab, to come give a talk about coyotes on the island on Saturday, December 2. We videotaped the presentation for the Dewees Island Environmental Board. The videos are divided into smaller units.
In this video, Lori introduces Sean:
In this video, Sean gives us a glimpse of the coyotes he observes regularly,
In this one, we look at what they eat, how they communicate, and what tracks look like.
This one discusses what we can learn from coyote scat and how the species can actually benefit the island:
The downsides of living with coyotes, and how natural selection might be leading to darker colored animals:
Why killing coyotes doesn’t work:
How far do coyotes range?
Advice for living with coyotes:
And then, Sean got his captive coyote Scooter out of the box. He’s had Scooter since he was found at a few days old along the side of a road, and while Scooter is captive, he’s by no means a pet. Sean begins by looking at the color of Scooter’s eyes.
While holding the Scooter, Sean answers questions:
They discuss the size of coyotes, the relative dangers, and migration of animals.
In this segment, Sean addresses when to “haze” them and when to let them be, scare tactics, and indirect feeding which can complicate the problem.
And at the conclusion,Sean returns Scooter to the crate and answers more questions about apex predators, whether they are nocturnal or diurnal, whether they’re good for songbird populations, and final words.
The Dewees Island Environmental Board has created a coyote task force: for more information about how you can help, see Lori.
This book, Coyote Settles the South, introduces readers to the way coyotes have become part of the landscape in a really interesting and thoughtful way. Sean and Scooter are even featured in it!
Howlin’ at the Moon, Sullivan’s Island Magazine p. 10 http://www.sullivansislandmagazine.com/green/summer-2017/#10
One note of clarification from Dr. Mowry who is quoted in the article “the article gives the impression that we asked Sullivan’s Island authorities to trap the coyotes so that we could get tissue samples from them, which was NOT the case. They trapped (and killed) the animals despite our objections, but we did then ask for the tissue samples once we knew that they were being trapped anyway.”
South Carolina Wildlife, Coyote Science Sept/Oct 2015 http://www.scwildlife.com/articles/septoct2015/coyote.html
“During the 1980s and 90s, deer populations in SC were booming. Even very high levels of doe harvest were insufficient to control numbers. But that trend began to change to the mid- to late- 1990s, at about the same time as coyotes became well established across the state. In combination with the ongoing high doe harvest, heavy predation by coyotes on fawns was more than most deer populations could sustain, and statewide numbers began to decline. But just as hunter harvest alone was incapable of controlling deer populations, coyotes also seem incapable of doing the job without hunter harvest. Consider that deer remain abundant enough to be a nuisance in many urban and suburban areas around the state where coyotes are present but hunting is not allowed.”
Biology and Control In SC http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/coyote/coyoteinfo.pdf
“Coyotes and their associated damage are quickly becoming unpopular with livestock producers and sportsmen. Nevertheless, attempts in other states to eliminate or drastically reduce the coyote population on a large scale have proven largely unsuccessful. However, it is possible to control coyote-related damage at the local level by removing the offending animals. If coyotes in the area are not causing specific depredation problems, it is suggested they not be removed. Coyotes are territorial, and their removal may be replaced with coyotes that are more likely to cause depredation problems.” Pg. 4
What creates a nuisance coyote? Urban Coyote Research https://urbancoyoteresearch.com/coyote-relationships-people
“Are all coyotes a threat to people? It continues to be surprising to find so many coyotes living near people in Cook County, IL, and yet relatively few conflicts have been reported. It was assumed that with an average of 350 coyotes removed each year from the area as nuisances, most urban coyotes would create problems. In contrast, only 14 of 446 radio-collared coyotes have been reported as nuisances (as defined by the local community). Apparently, few coyotes have become nuisances in Cook County, and it is likely that this is true of other metropolitan areas. It remains to be seen if conflicts will stay relatively rare or if they become more common as coyotes adjust to living with humans in this area. For perspective, it is worth considering that no documented case of a coyotebiting a human has been reported for Cook County, IL. Contrast that result with domestic dogs, in which Cook County often records 2,000 to 3,000 dog bites each year (including some fatalities). In 2013, for example, there were no recorded bites to people by coyotes in Cook County but 3,822 bites from domestic pets were reported (data from Cook County Animal and Rabies Control).
Very few coyotes that have been studied in Cook County, IL have developed into “nuisance” animals. Those coyotes that became nuisances during the study typically became habituated through feeding by people. In other words, people were feeding wildlife and either intentionally, or unintentionally, fed coyotes. Once coyotes associate human buildings or yards with food, they may increase daytime activities and thus are seen more easily by people. In those areas in southern California where attacks have been common, researchers have reported a higher frequency of human-related food in the diet of nuisance coyotes. This was indicative of feeding by people, or coyotes seeking food in garbage. In either case, feeding of coyotes should be heavily discouraged. A common pattern for many human attacks has been feeding prior to the incident — in many cases intentional feeding. Click the link above to read an example of how intentional feeding of wildlife led to the creation of a nuisance coyote.”
Saturday night’s ceramics exhibit will share the gallery space with our outgoing exhibit. The beginning of the month brought local artists Janie Ball and Elizabeth Middour to the gallery in the Huyler House. Both plein air painters, Janie and Elizabeth did some painting on the island, and took scores of photographs to provide us with a great exhibit, and there are some beautiful works left if you’re looking for a holiday gift or a piece of Dewees to bring to your home in another city.
For this weekend only, the paintings will frame the backdrop for a new exhibition of potter Charlie Evergreen.
Christie Drew, who has studied with Charlie, says this:
Its my great pleasure to guest post here on the Dewees Island Blog. I’m excited to introduce my friend Charlie Evergreen, a fellow ceramics artist working in Durham, NC. Charlie will be exhibiting in the Huyler House by invitation of the Dewees Island Arts Council starting November 4.
Charlie says “I’m happiest in life when I’m experimenting and learning, so I apply this to making art. To do so, I exercise control in my process, but intentionally leave part of the results to chance.” The results are surprising and spectacular. Charlie makes both functional and sculptural art, all of which has an earthy, oceanic and sometimes otherworldly character. You can preview the show from 4-6pm on Saturday November 4. And join us at the opening reception to meet this vibrant ceramic artist starting at 6:30.
what thoughts ramble
in the redstart’s brain
as the day draws closed
as dusk descends?
is it wormy fuel to lay on fat?
a steady southbound wind
perhaps it’s the flicker
of unseen light
the lure of tropical terrain
is it the flight plan hard-wired–
instinct etched in
by design not likely to change?
or does some warbler learned plan B
come into play
by circumstance rearrange?
fare thee well little bird
may stars bright guide you true
to thicket lush
past falcon’s hush
through dark skies inky blue
it’s my hope
that neither cat
will spell your odyssey’s end
but that your tiny wings
will bring you back
to inspire me
My friend J. Drew Lanham is a professor of wildlife biology at Clemson University who is inspired by birds daily. This poem is his musing on the redstart’s migration. At this time of year, you never know which warblers you’ll find foraging in the oak trees near the landings building or along Dewees Inlet drive. Keep an eye out for redstarts, which have been all over the island this week, and some of the warblers below. I’ve been stopped in my tracks by the busy flitting of redstarts at eye level from the landings porch, and it’s totally worth preparing a beverage and hanging out there for a little while and watching. Exactly this time of year six years ago, I published this post about redstarts.
(This poem was published in a book of poems called “Sparrow Envy.” You can order it directly from Drew. Most of the ones I have seen lately have been females and young birds; my sense is that the males migrate earlier. This photo of a male was taken at the Kiawah Island Banding Center.
Other warblers (all photos from Dewees) you might encounter this time of year are:
Irma, however, stands out as one of our more significant storms from a road perspective. Due to the extreme tidal surge from a hurricane hundreds of miles away, and strong northeast winds, lots of water was pushed into the marshes and waterways. We were lucky in this hurricane that we didn’t get strong winds, but the water was impressive. The incredible tides in the waterway pushed water way higher than usual, sending it over Old House Lane and into the impoundment. We set up a camera before we left to see if we could watch the marsh near Chapel Pond. At first it looked like this:
Within an hour, it looked like this:
If you look to the right, you’ll see the water just pouring in from Old House Lane:
And by Wednesday morning (mostly) things are back to normal:
We got back to the area on Tuesday evening. Both ferries, which had been put into storage per our island protocol in a storm, were still there, so the island ran the Parker for a few days. By the time we got here, the staff had already done an assessment and created a recovery plan. With no power to the utility, we needed to wait until running water returned to live here, but those of us with school kids who had been expecting a few more days off had to come get some necessary items for school. We met the Parker at the ferry dock: while there was water in the parking lot, it was less than there was when we got back from Matthew.
That wasn’t the case on Monday: Van Kinnett sent these photos to Claudia DeMayo:
As you can see, the tide was impressive! The staff was on hand and cheerful when we arrived. It was clear that they’d been working all day.
the ride along the waterway showed some damage to the IOP and Goat Island docks:
Once on the island, Joe and island manager David Dew were available for transportation to homes. As you can see, the road was still covered in water:
The impoundment was still high: the camera we set there had shorted out in the rain and tripped the gfi switch; this was a full 24 hours after the highest part of the surge.
We grabbed our stuff and headed for the ferry back.
Roads were still impassable by golf cart, so we’ve gotten rides from all of the island’s “high rise” vehicles.
On my ride over on Wednesday, the ferry captain Matt and deckhand Mike stopped to retrieve a stray floating dock and tie it off so it wasn’t a navigational hazard.
The skiff was also used for transportation:
By Wednesday mid-day, the smaller ferry, the Dewees Breeze was back in service. And the crew took all of the road materials we had on hand and transformed Old House Lane into a road from a river:
And worked on repairs to Dewees Inlet drive.
All in all, we’re so grateful for the staff who’ve kept working (even in today’s absurd 2″ rainstorm that fell in the space of about 45 minutes) to get us back up and running; power on, water and wastewater systems a go, and roads improving by the hour. Tomorrow and Saturday we are working on some community cleanup projects: sign up here if you want to help.
Some times the Webcams are experiencing 502 Gateway Errors. Some people can see the webcams and some people can’t. Sorry about that. If you experience a 502 Gateway Error, try reloading the page again later. Some folks who reported seeing the error later said they could see the webcams.
Here are stills of the video feeds from 2017-09-09 at 9:47 a.m.
On Monday, Dewees Island might have had more people on island than at any other point in history, as we paused together to take in the amazing spectacle of the total solar eclipse. It was a day planned for a long time, and well orchestrated for big time fun. The ferry staff planned for extra riders, owners volunteered to remove extra cars from the parking lot to make room for more cars, there were solar system displays and geocaches set up, and really cool t-shirts ordered for the store, thanks to Betty Yearout and Ginny Moser. Over the weekend, at least 950 individual rides were taken on the ferry. On Friday afternoon, scientists from NASA came to tell us about the science behind the eclipse and what to expect. Huyler House was filled to capacity.
We were originally concerned about clouds, and there were even a few storms (with bonus of double rainbow) at the start of the day. Ferry transportation began early, with what would be a record-breaking 380 ferry riders on Monday.
The solar eclipse portion of the day began with two hours of drop-in activities at the Huyler House, planned by Lori Sheridan Wilson. Stations were set up around the picnic area, with different solar system themed objectives. Over 100 people dropped in over the course of the morning, to try the different stations.
From oreo moon phases, to chalk art, to UV beads which change color, there were activities for everyone.
People came in their Dewees solar eclipse t-shirts, and in others. One family, the DeWees family, was renting here because of the name/family connections.
The clouds parted at just the right moment to get a perfect view of totality. We had originally planned to watch from the house, but wanted to see what was going on at the beach and decided to watch there.
It was fun to find others watching from along the roads. The Sullivans:
The Hall/Sood family
And if this is you, let us know…
At first glance, the beach was more crowded than I’ve ever seen it:
So we sent the drone up to see what it looked like from above. The beach actually isn’t that crowded. At the time these were taken, we were at about 80% totality, so the light is getting a little weird.
The beach was a pretty festive atmosphere, so we decided to stay, but I had to zip back to the house to grab one more person. Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed the beach.
The following are Julian Richardson’s photos.
I got back to the beach in time for totality. Along the way, we could see the tiny crescent sun shadows along the road. It was weird light, and at the first instance of totality, we were still along Pelican Flight. It went from daylight to twilight in a second, and was almost so dark I couldn’t see the road. Several people took photos on the beach.
The parking lot at ancient dunes actually had a perfect view through the trees. I had one shot left on the camera, and managed this, right before it got light again.
Christie Drew took this one toward the beach at Ancient Dunes:
And this one of the parking area:
And Captain Lisa took this from the ferry dock:
Jim Mack captured this of the impoundment:
The Boone family on the beach at totality:
Claudia DeMayo got some great shots:
Faith and Fred took this cool timelapse:
Professional Photographer and long time visitor to Dewees Island Jo Marie Brown caught this image from Columbia:
There is something really amazing about being stopped in your tracks by nature, and the way this happened made us all simultaneously pause, take a breath, and look to the sky. I am still collecting photos to put in a book for the archives: if you have some you want included, feel free to email them to me before September 10. Still want to contribute to something related to the eclipse? NASA is asking for your impressions in six words. All eclipse-in-six entries will be sealed in a time capsule to be opened at the next total eclipse in 2024. Enter here. And if you do enter that six word contest, send us your six words.