Dr. Leslie Sautter’s presentation on our Changing Beach

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Last week at POA weekend, Dr. Leslie Sautter came to Dewees and gave a great presentation on the history of our shoreline, changes to the front beach, and suggestions for ways to address the new inlet into Lake Timicau.  As usual, she was both informative and entertaining.  I tried to add her slides and illustrations into the videos: I recommend starting at the beginning and watching them in order. She comes to us not as a consultant but as an educator providing some framework for us to address with consultants.

She started with some historical data that she gathered using Google Earth. Since 2006, her students have done surveys, but the Google Earth tools allow some different perspectives on the shoreline.  Overflights and drone photography have made even more research possible. This first video begins with a general discussion of shoreline change and coastal processes.

The second video discusses geomorphology, or how the beach changes.  From ebb tidal deltas, to swash bars, to updrift and downdrift, she gives us some geological terms and illustrations of what is happening in Capers Inlet, and how that affects how much sand we have on the beach.

The third video discusses how shoals form, and how that changes the directions that the sand moves on the beach. Sand can build, creating a tombolo effect, which is what happened on Dewees in the 2000’s.

The fourth video looks at the specific changes on Dewees in terms of shoreline and the main channel, including previous breaches from Hurricanes David and Hugo.

In this fifth video, Dr. Sautter looks at the historical changes in Lake Timicau and the ocean shoreline, looking at the natural flow of water in that area.

Here, she looks at the current breach situation, the way it is changing every day, and some possible solutions we might explore going forward.

In the 7th video, Dr. Sautter looks at the current patterns of water in Lake Timicau. She shows us several possibilities for encouraging the water to go further north than the channel currently goes. Kiawah uses a similar “soft solution” for managing their shoreline.

This video concludes Dr. Sautter’s lecture to the Dewees community on March 24, 2019. She continues looking for alternate water areas. Some questions and answers are included. How will ecology change? Can we keep the area impounded? Will sand fences make a difference?

Island Living

Dewees Island featured in Charleston Style and Design Magazine

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Dewees Island’s pristine beach is featured as the backdrop for a photo shoot in this month’s Charleston Style and Design magazine. In May, we were delighted to host a crew of local and imported talent who put together a fashion photo shoot on our beach. Anne and Jim and I helped with transportation and learned a lot. We really enjoyed getting to know the editor of the magazine and the group of photographers, stylists, make-up artists, directors, and photographers who were here. Dewees Island has an ad in the magazine, as well. The magazine’s art director used one of my photos, our new logo, and text compiled by communication committee members Anne and Christel, to produce this ad (scroll down for the big version):

Sea Turtle Conservation

DNR Announces 2010 SC Sea Turtle Nesting Results

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The SCDNR Marina Turtle Program announced:

Sea turtle nesting this year ended on a positive note. We had 3141 loggerhead, 6 green and 3 leatherback nests on project beaches. This is compared with 2183 loggerhead, 1 green and 3 leatherback nests in 2009. Please visit our online nest database to view more in-depth summary information about the 2010 season: Genetic samples were collected from each of the loggerhead nests and 22.2% of this data has been analyzed. We are expecting most of this data to be completed before next season, but so far the results are exciting. Results from this study are available to you on the internet: To date, we have had a turtle with a distance of over 650 kilometers between successive nests. She nested on Blackbeard Island, GA on June 17th and then nested on Cape Hatteras, NC on July 7th. We are learning that our nesting loggerheads are moving around much more than originally thought. In 2010, we had 100% participation in this study by nest protection projects in South Carolina. This level of participation was critical to the success of this project. We plan to continue this project in 2011 and certainly hope that your project plans to participate again.

There were 138 sea turtle strandings in 2010 (67 loggerheads, 44 Kemp’s ridleys, 21 greens, four leatherbacks and two unknown). One half of these sea turtles stranded in Charleston County. Stranding numbers have averaged around 100 per year over the past ten years. To learn more about strandings in South Carolina please visit:

As always we ask that you visit our web site frequently, we keep it up-to-date with current information. Please encourage others to learn about our program and to report sea turtle sightings on our web site as well. Our web site address is We also have a SC sea turtle community email. If you would like to join, please send an email to Finally, look out for our 2010 Loggerheadlines newsletter which will be published in January.

We appreciate all that you do for sea turtle conservation in South Carolina and hope you have a warm and happy holiday season.

The Dewees Island sea turtle data, including maps and charts, for 2010 can be viewed at You can compare it to the 2009 data at


Beach Erosion and Accretion Update

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It’s been a dynamic year on the Dewees beach front, in March / April it looked like we were headed for a horrible year of more and more erosion.  And then things changed.

The sand from the sandbar attached to the island north of Osprey Walk has started spreading out and welding onto the beach front, just like our friend Professor Leslie Sauter, the coastal geology expert from the College of Charleston, said it would.

We’ve seen fairly steady accretion (the opposite of erosion) since then.  It doesn’t happen at a steady rate.  It ebbs and flows.  One week you might see new sand, only to see it gone the next.  Then a month later there’s a new high sand mark.

Hurricane season and winter storms can have a dramatic effect.  When you only get to the island a few times a year, the changes between visits can be dramatic.

I thought I’d get an interim update from ocean front resident Gary McGraw.  I asked:

Did the waves from [Hurricane] Igor have much of an effect on the amount of sand on the beach?

And he responded:

Yes, but in a good way. As measured at my boardwalk, here is the sequence. In March, you could almost walk under my boardwalk. The sand was 10” below step five. Before Hurricane Earl, the sand was between step three & four; but the tides washed away sand back down to step four. Today after Hurricane Igor, the sand nearly covers step three … Igor washed sand onto the beach! Since spring, I’d guess over two feet of sand has accreted at my boardwalk.

Cheers, Gary

Gary confirmed last night at the Turtle Team Party that the sand is still covering steps three.


Dewees Beach a great place to see Common Nighthawks

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Nesting nighthawk on the south end in the spring

If you haven’t noticed the funny, electrical sound of the common nighthawk out on the beach, be sure to listen closely.  Nighthawks are identifiable by their white wing patches, and you can often see them on the dead trees at Osprey Walk, or the posts at Osprey or on the post where you turn off Pelican Flight lane to get to Huyler House walk.  We have seen them nesting at both ends of the island in the springtime, and they are fairly common summer residents.  We assume they are beginning to migrate south for the winter.  They are pretty well-camouflaged birds with long wings and somewhat erratic flight.  They make buzzes and booms to the point where you may be convinced that a small jet is whirling around.

This is a link to a great video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which gives you a great example of their sounds and flight patterns.


Nature’s fireworks set for tonight

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Those of us who have been watching for hatchling turtle nests have been treated to the lead-up to tonight’s event.  The annual Perseid meteor showers have begun their spectacular show, and we estimated 3 or 4 an hour last week.  Dewees is a great place to stargaze, because we have no development for 60 miles to the northeast, and we are far enough that the lights of Mount Pleasant and Charleston don’t affect us too much. In addition, the moon is still a tiny crescent, and it sets just as the meteor showers are heating up, at 10:00 pm.  According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory page,   “The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most consistent performers and considered by many as 2010’s best shower. The meteors they produce are among the brightest of all meteor showers.”

This meteor shower has been observed for about 2000 years.  They are so named because they appear to originate in the constellation of Perseus.  The meteor shower happens when a stream of dust and debris from the Swift-Tuttle Comet intersects with our atmosphere.

You can see maps and listen to a podcast at, which says that this should be one of the best years for viewing, because:

it peaks under a moonless sky… You’ll see the brightest meteors easily, and from a dark site you’ll also count quite a few faint shooting stars.

We see Perseid meteors because the shower’s parent comet, 109P/Swift-Tuttle, has ejected dust grains along its path during numerous trips through the solar system. Each year around this time, Earth passes through the debris stream, and we experience a meteor shower.

Perseid meteors are fast — their speeds top 125,000 mph (200,000 km/h) — and many leave smoke trails that can last several seconds. Many Perseids are also bright and usually appear white or bluish-white.

August 12 and 13 aren’t the only dates you can observe Perseids. This year, the shower’s activity started around July 17, and it will continue through August 24. Of course, you’ll see fewer meteors the farther you observe from the peak date.

Brucie Harry sent us this link to an article from Edmund Scientific.  And here’s a link to with more information.  If you are on the beach, watch your step; there are nests ready for hatching.  Use a red flashlight if you need one; it won’t hurt your night vision and it won’t interfere with wildlife.  We also found one website which said don’t consume any alcohol– it interferes with night vision.

If you manage to get a great photo, please don’t hesitate to send it in for publication!


Jellyfish add a new dimension to the beach

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moon jelly or sea nettle?

We are definitely not the only ones noticing more jellyfish on the beach.  Last week, the Post and Courier had two separate articles about jellyfish on Folly Beach and the Isle of Palms.  We have noticed more complaints of stings on our beaches, and it appears that there are even random tentacles in the waters.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources,

To some, jellyfish may appear to have no apparent value, but they are, in fact, a very important part of the marine food web. Jellyfish are carnivorous, feeding mostly on a variety of zooplankton, comb jellies and occasionally other jellyfish. Larger species, however, are capable of capturing and devouring large crustaceans and other marine organisms. Jellyfish are themselves preyed upon by spadefish, sunfish, sea turtles and other marine organisms.

The somewhat benign kinds of jellyfish in our waters are usually cannonball or mushroom jellies, which don’t sting much, moon jellies, which have a large bell and short tentacles, and comb jellies, which don’t sting at all.  The more venomous ones, and therefore more dangerous, include sea wasps and sea nettles, box jellies, and portuguese men-o-war.  These all seem to have been sighted at Kiawah and Folly Beach recently, so keep your eyes open here.

welts from a recent sting

According to SCDNR, the following is the appropriate treatment for stings:

Primary first aid for any jellyfish sting should be to minimize the number of nematocysts discharging into the skin and to reduce the harmful effects of the venom.

If stung by a jellyfish, the victim should carefully remove the tentacles that adhere to the skin by using sand, clothing, towels, seaweed or other available materials. As long as tentacles remain on the skin, they will continue to discharge venom.

A variety of substances have been used to reduce the effects of jellyfish stings. Meat tenderizer, sugar, vinegar, plant juices and sodium bicarbonate have all been used with varying degrees of success. Methylated spirits and other forms of alcohol formerly recommended for inhibiting stinging cells actually stimulate them and may increase pain and cause severe skin reactions. Picric acid and human urine also cause a discharge of nematocysts and should not be used.

Victims of serious stings should make every effort to get out of the water as soon as possible to avoid drowning. If swelling and pain from more serious stings persist, prompt medical attention should be sought. Recovery periods can vary from several minutes to several weeks.


Loggerhead Inventory (and Possible Hatchling Release) Scheduled for Tuesday

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The Dewees Island Turtle Team announced that there’ll be an Inventory for Nest #2 on Tuesday August 3rd at 7:30PM. Nest #2 is located north of Osprey Walk about half way between Osprey Walk and the north end of the island.  It’s north of where the sandbar attaches to the island.

If any live hatchlings are found in the nest, they will be released into the ocean.


Mom, look what I found on the beach

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On Saturday and Sunday morning, the tidal pools and flats at the south end of Dewees Island beach have been covered with striped sea cucumbers. At first they look like rice crispies that have been left in milk too long. On closer inspection, you see millions (literally millions) of individual sea cucumbers. Perhaps 5% are large and the rest are small. They are alive and moving in place. If a large one is taken out of the water, it squirts water out and decreases in volume. We assume they are reproducing.

Large Striped Sea Cucumber on Dewees Island beach

Sea Cucumber – Reproduction (according to (special thanks to former Dewees Naturalist Arla Slaughter for the link)
Sea cucumbers tend to have separate sexes. Spawning behavior tends to be seasonal. Many sea cucumbers on the Great Barrier Reef spawn during the mass spawning events seen in November. During spawning, sea cucumbers travel to the top of reef structures and release their gametes into the surrounding currents. A range of developmental modes is seen among sea cucumbers. Development via feeding larvae (Planktotrophy) or non-feeding larvae (lecithotrophy) occurs in a large number of species. In others, embryos and larvae may be brooded by the female. The feeding larva of sea cucumbers (when present) is very distinctive and is called an auricularia larva. It swims for about 10-40 days before settling on the bottom and metamorphosing into a baby sea cucumber.

Click on a picture to enlarge it.


Please Remove Beach Toys Each Day

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The Dewees Island Property Owners Association asks all members of the community to remove their beach toys, chairs, tents, and other items each day.  That way the beach is as pristine as possible for everyone.  Merely tucking them under a beach access path is not sufficient.  Beach items should be taken back to your house.  The items at in the photo below were photographed at dawn on the morning of 5/30.  They appeared to have been left overnight.

beach toys and chairs left overnight