The Crab Bank ‘Pelicam,’ in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, brings you live video of nesting pelicans.
Located just offshore of Mount Pleasant in Charleston Harbor, SC, within paddling distance of Shem Creek, is a tiny island and bird sanctuary called Crab Bank. Originally a large sand bar, Crab Bank was officially an island by the 1950s, thanks to the continued addition of dredge spoils from Shem Creek. By the late 1970s, enough height built up on the Bank to prevent overwashing, allowing the first documented seabird nesting at the site. Though it cyclically erodes and accretes, Crab Bank consistently offers ideal habitat for a seabird colony.
Crab Bank is one of only five active seabird nesting sites in South Carolina, and vital to the survival of at least 15 species of birds. While it is illegal to directly harm birds in the Charleston Harbor, a designated wildlife sanctuary, human induced disturbances from boat landings and dog walking on Crab Bank threaten the seabirds’ already precarious nesting season.
A single event, such as one dog startling the birds, has the potential to decimate the colony.
Several of the species reliant on Crab Bank are Species of Concern in South Carolina, or even threatened or endangered. All of the species are considered in decline, but the safe haven of Crab Bank is allowing numbers of certain species to improve.
Seabirds, as well as shorebirds, waders, and waterbirds, are beautiful to watch. They deserve a safe space to be uninterrupted and thriving. But if you need more reasons than those to support protecting these unique species, remember that birds are indicators of climate change and associated impacts — many changes to the lifestyle of birds can be related to water temperature, alteration of vegetation, and other ecosystem impacts. To watch birds is to prepare for our own future.