My first Magazine 2018 Quarter 4 Town Notes with Election Candidates - Page 8

Wild Kiawah Island Dolphin Education Program By: Jim Jordan | Photos: S. Nelson The Kiawah Island Dolphin Education Program began in September 2017 and is a cooperative effort between the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (LMMN), and the Town of Kiawah Island. The Town of Kiawah Island currently funds the program through August 2019. LMMN also start- ed a similar program on the Seabrook side of the inlet earlier this summer, with support from the Town of Seabrook Island. Trained volunteers and observers, called educators, are stationed at Captain Sam’s inlet to observe and record dolphin behavior, educate beachgoers, and help reduce negative interactions between people and dolphins. During the first 9 months of the program, 10 trained volunteers from Kiawah participated along with staff from LMMN. These educators logged more than 400 dolphin sightings and spoke with over 1,000 beachgoers during this time period. Here is what we are learning: • Kayakers are responsible for the majority of negative interac- tions with dolphins, typically by approaching too closely and disrupting feeding behavior. • At least 11 different dolphins have been documented strand feeding in the inlet, all of which appear to be part of a pod (a dolphin family unit) that lives all year in the river. • One female dolphin has been documented in Charleston since 1995 and is more than 27 years old. She has had five calves and been seen strand feeding with her 16-year-old independent calf at the inlet. This dolphin has been observed more than 70 times. • Another female has also been documented in Charleston since 1995 and has been seen with several calves. She currently has a calf and we’ve seen the calf “practice” strand feeding at the inlet. For more information, visit LMMN website at 8 2018 Turtle Patrol Season Summary By: Alison Frey Kiawah Island had a great 2018 turtle season. There were 217 recorded nests, hatching over 17,000 baby loggerhead turtles. 142 of the nests were relocated due to the nest being laid in an unsafe area, such as below the high tide line or in a high traffic area. The nesting season started May 9. The last nest was evaluated on October 4. The season ended "naturally" and not early, as feared, due to a tropical storm. South Carolina had over 2,750 nests and over 166,694 hatchlings. Thank you to our 220 Turtle Patrol volunteers! Nests: 217 Hatchlings: <17,000