Seabird sanctuary sees dramatic change post-Idalia, officials say

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 9:14 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 12:23 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - State wildlife officials said impacts from Tropical Storm Idalia dramatically altered a Charleston County seabird sanctuary.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said two-thirds of Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary is now underwater during mid- and high tides because of overwash and erosion caused by the storm.

The site supports more brown pelicans than any other site on the Atlantic coast.

Officials said the western tip of the island and the oceanfront beach were impacted the most. While the northern edge remained dry and intact.

“Fortunately, the brown pelicans that nested along the side of the island facing Edisto Island had mostly fledged (could fly), so we expect not many young birds perished,” Biologist Felicia Sanders, who leads the SCDNR Coastal Bird Program, said.

Portions of the island remain closed to boat landing until Oct. 16. Officials estimate at least 500 downy pelican chicks remain on the high ground and many juvenile pelicans and migratory seabirds are using the sandflats to rest and forage.

In addition to the pelicans, other migratory birds use the island for food and rest.