Saturday, June 30, 2018

JUST NORMAL DAYS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD

Unexpected guest hits the beach at Hilton Head's Sea Pines Resort
BY T. MICHAEL BODDIE

A Lowcountry pond is one place you might spot an alligator.

The Atlantic ocean?

Not so much.

Erline Smith, a resident of the Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, said she was on her early morning beach walk Friday when she saw the gator.

"I've been in Sea Pines for 21 years," Smith said, "and I'd never seen an alligator swimming."


Sometimes, however,the great reptiles will "meander out onto the beach," according to Sea Pines wildlife management,
Bret Martin, president of Sea Pines community service associates, said the resort offers free nuisance animal removal service, employing both wildlife managers and biologists.

"We are a wildlife refuge, and that's part of what we do every day here," Martin said.

"We don't have alligators on the beach every day," he said with a laugh.

Security personnel arrived around 7:30 a.m. to capture the creature, who had swam from mile marker 33 to about the 24-mile marker.

Smith said there were "tons" of people watching the gator.

"They caught it with a fishing pole," Smith said. "Then they taped its mouth shut."

Martin said captured wildlife generally ends up living at the Sea Pines Forest Preserve, and this one will likely be a new addition.

Or a "new buddy," as Smith put it in an email.

And this heart-warming story:

Beaufort boaters rescue stranded dolphin on mud flat


PHOTOS BY JESSICA IRELAND
Derek Skaggs, left, and Bernie Sigmon jump from a boat into the Chechessee River to free a dolphin that was stranded on a sandbar on Tuesday afternoon about a half-mile south of the Edgar Glenn Boat Landing in Okatie.

Skaggs, Sigmon and Paa Kodwo Dowell work together to pull the dolphin’s tail to free it from a sandbar.
An inaugural boat ride on the Chechessee River last week turned into an impromptu rescue mission Tuesday for a Beaufort County man.
Derek Skaggs was out on the river trying out his new boat with his girlfriend, Jessica Ireland, and a few friends.
Skaggs bought the boat from a buddy who had to relocate for a new job. It ran well, and after about an hour of sightseeing, Skaggs and his group made their way back to the Edgar Glenn Boat Landing near the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center.
They were about a half-mile away from the landing when they saw something flopping and flailing on a mud flat.
“As we got closer and realized it was a dolphin, the boys immediately jumped in to help it back into the water,” Ireland said. “They left the one person who didn’t know how to drive the boat in the boat.”
Skaggs thought the tide was going out and that would have left the animal on the bank, out of the water and in the sun.
He believed he had to act fast.
Skaggs said the dolphin “didn’t look injured, there were no marks.”
It was a big animal — 8 to 10 feet long and 300 to 400 pounds.
“It was really hard to estimate. I’m originally from Kentucky. The biggest thing I’ve seen is a 20-pound catfish,“ he joked.
Skaggs tried grabbing the tail, but it was thrashing too much. He moved around to her head and talked to her, looking her in the eye.
“It made her more relaxed,“ he said.
“My friend was going to push from the front, but that almost got him bit.”
"WE HAVE RESPONDERS IN THE BEAUFORT COUNTY AREA WHO ARE TRAINED TO HANDLE THESE SITUATIONS.
Wayne McFee, wildlife biologist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Skaggs and Paa Kodwo Dowell chose the other end, grabbed the tail and pulled.
About two minutes later, the dolphin slipped off the embankment and swam away.
“I was expecting her skin to be more slimy, but it was more leather-like,” Skaggs said.
A video that Ireland shot shows the men raising their arms in jubilation. Ireland can be heard cheering from the boat as the dolphin swam away.
While this story apparently ended well, it does raise concerns.
Experts say this sort of thing happens too often — and good intentions actually can cause greater harm.
Erin Fougeres, southeast marine mammal stranding program administrator with NOAA, says the first thing people want to do is get the stranded animals back into the water.
That, she said, is the No. 1 thing not to do.
Animals become stranded because they are sick or injured, she said. That means that when people push them back into the water, they are actually “delaying treatment.”
“They’ll re-strand in worse condition,” she said.
Wayne McFee, a 25-year veteran research wildlife biologist with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based in Charleston, agreed.
After watching the video, he offered advice for anyone who might encounter a similar situation.
McFee said the dolphin likely was strand feeding and got wedged onto the mud flat.
“We’ve had animals in this situation before, and high tide washes them out. (Dolphins) being out of the water is fine, they breathe air. It may have overheated a bit, but yesterday (Tuesday) wasn’t that bad (though) the animal may have gotten sunburned. (We’ve) seen animals on mud flats for six hours.”
The key, he said, is to call in the experts.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources has a wildlife hotline number, 800-922-5431, that boaters should program into their phones.
Fougeres suggested a NOAA number — 877-942-5343 — and a smart-phone app called Dolphin & Whale 911. The NOAA app has been out for about two years and gives responders the animal’s location coordinates when users upload photos.
“We have responders in the Beaufort County area who are trained to handle these situations.” McFee said.
“They’re covered legally under a permit. We don’t want people to make these decisions on their own.”

1 comment:

rcg said...

Not as exciting as alligators ot porpoise, but the hawks leave rabbit heads in my gutters.