Dolphin Strand Feeding on Kiawah Island

(In case video doesn’t open: http://www2.counton2.com/news/2011/aug/30/kiawah-island-dolphin-strand-feeding-ar-2342461/)

By Count on 2 (WCBD-TV Charleston) Meteorologist, Joey Sovine:

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC —

It’s becoming a spectator sport along the Kiawah River.

Dolphin strand feeding is a unique tactic used by dolphins exclusively in the Lowcountry of South Carolinaand Georgia. “Along the South Carolina and Georgia coast you have the gentle slope going into the water so it makes it easy on the dolphins coming out of the water, catch that fish and slip back into the water,” explained Captain Jake Feary, the assistant director of outdoor programs on Kiawah Island.

It’s a tactic that involves teamwork between dolphins, who cluster together schools of fish and then attack them along the banks forcing the fish out of the water. The dolphins swim out of the water, beaching themselves so they can catch the fish out of water.

“You tend to see a leader dolphin, kind of rounding everyone up, communicating with the rest of the herd. A couple of what I call worker dolphins, they’re the ones really actively gathering the bait fish up and then you’ve got a lookout dolphin. That’s the one that pops his head out of the water and scans the horizon. Then all the sudden they all go down and then they burst up all at one time on that school of fish,” explainedFeary.

Kiawah Island offers kayak and boat tours to try to catch the dolphins at work. Visit http://www.kiawahresort.com/recreation/ for more information or call (843)768-2121 and ask for the nature center to book a trip. Access to the nature center and all they offer is available to the general public.

By foot, the area shown in the video above is accessible from Beachwalker County Park. It is an approximately one mile walk south, to Captain Sams Inlet. The best time to catch the dolphins in action is around low tide. Sightings of this type of feeding are not guaranteed.