The Environment at Hunting Island
Hunting Island is always changing. Migrating creatures in air and sea come and go with the seasons, and the natural forces of erosion constantly re-shape the island. Friends of Hunting Island State Park takes pride in our work to help foster this rich environment by helping with preservation, stewardship programs and membership funding for facility upgrades, additions, dune restoration initiatives, accessibility products such as mobi mats, beach wheelchairs and a host of volunteers to help champion the Hunting Island experience through its environment.
In addition to some 3,000 acres of salt marsh and more than four miles of beach, a large lagoon, created by sand dredging in 1968, has become a natural wonderland and home to such unexpected species as seahorses and barracuda.
Animal visitors include loggerhead turtles, which nest on the island in the summer months. On dry land and in and around freshwater ponds can be found deer and alligators, raccoons and even eastern diamondback rattlesnakes.
Hundreds of species of birds also are resident on or visit Hunting Island, including painted buntings, tanagers and orioles, along with pelicans, oystercatchers, skimmers and terns, herons, egrets and wood storks.
Hunting Island’s beaches are important for shorebirds and seabirds, which use the beach to feed, nest, and rest along their migration route. We ask all visitors to help protect these birds by giving them space, keeping out of posted areas, and keeping dogs on a leash at all times.
Please join us to help in our effort to keep this natural barrier island, and all its ecosystems, as protected as we can. For volunteer opportunities, which we host frequently, please select "environment" on the membership application. Our Director can be reached at FOHIenvironment@gmail.com should you have any questions.
FOHI is now working with Adopt-A-Stream Program | SCDHEC
On January 10, 2023, we performed a Tidal Saltwater Assessment at the Russ Point boat landing to assist the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control in establishing a baseline for determining stream health based on chemical, physical, biological, and habitat parameters. The Assessments are done in conjunction with the SC Adopt-a-Stream program. Detailed information about the program can be found online at Adopt-A-Stream Program | SCDHEC. It was a partly cloudy day, the air temperature was 10 C, the water 12 C, ph of the water was 8 standard units, dissolved oxygen was 7.7 ppm, salinity was 35 o/00, and water transparency was 72.6 cm using a transparency tube. All are standard readings for this type of water source. Wildlife observed included yellow rumped warblers, clapper rails, laughing gulls, double crested cormorants, and buffleheads.
The water tests are much easier to conduct with more than one person doing the tests. Any FOHI environmental volunteers interested in helping to conduct these tests should contact me at FOHIenvironment@gmail.com. We plan to conduct the tests monthly. You do not need to be a certified AAS volunteer to assist in the tests but if interested, training can be arranged. With enough interest, we can increase the frequency of reports, the complexity of information reported (further training required), and the number of water sources assessed.
Moody Boneyard–Joan Eckhardt
Marsh Birds–Gary Jones
Photo: Tim Moore