Island Expeditions: Crab Bank Steward Program
By: Molly Rudolph
Recently, our Island Brands USA team came to Charleston for the first annual Good Vibes Gathering. As we bonded over our mutual love of everything Island, we discussed where we want to be in the future and what we want Island to be known for. As a member of 1% for the Planet, we know that a huge part of Island Brands is being able to give back to the environment. We took advantage of this amazing opportunity of being together and headed over to Coastal Expeditions on Shem Creek to learn more about our surrounding waters and the efforts being made to protect our beautiful low country.
Our team jumped on a boat with Coastal Expedition’s owner Captain Chris Crolley, and their Foundation director, Karen Monohan. We cruised through Shem Creek to see Crab Bank Island; an island well known to local boaters, but it's true purpose has been long forgotten by most. Crab Bank Island used to be the premier nesting site for over 15 species of birds including Pelicans and Skimmers. As one of only five islands on the coast of South Carolina of this kind, this place was a vital part of our coastal estuaries until the tides began to sweep the sand away. Unfortunately, birds had not been able to nest on Crab Bank Island for years because of the erosion, and their populations were reflecting it. Chris, an avid kayaker and environmentalist, watched this land slowly dwindle until it became the barely visible sand bar that most locals know it as and decided to do something about it. He approached the head engineers of the Post 45 Charleston Harbor dredging project and asked for help rebuilding an island for the birds to flock to. This was no easy task.
Because Crab Bank was designated as a Seabird Sanctuary in 2006, Crolley was able to obtain some funding from the Government to restore the island, the rest, however, was up to him. He and the Coastal Expeditions Foundation finally raised enough money to pay for the dredged sand to be moved to Crab Bank in 2019.
The new Crab Bank Island now stands at 32 acres with 9 feet of elevation at high tide. This massive piece of land was completely built by reusing dredged material from the lower Charleston Harbor and is a monument to what can come out of unlikely collaborations such as coastal protectors and dredge engineers. Chris said it best, “Industry and nature don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Given the right partnerships, they can thrive next to each other”. On March 15th, 2022, the first egg in nearly six years was laid on Crab Bank Island, thanks to Captain Chris Crolley and his crew of wildlife enthusiasts with the Crab bank Steward Program. Coastal Expeditions now gives tours around the island to educate our city on the importance of places like this one, and how to protect them from harm.
World Oceans Month is in June, this is an opportunity for all of us to step up and support our planet however we can. Island Brands USA strives to be clean, healthy, and sustainable in everything we do, including how we live our lives. Our Island family has organized beach cleanups throughout the southeast to cleanse our waters and you can easily do the same no matter where you are. These simple acts of compassion for our oceans will lead to safer, cleaner, and healthier waters for all while also inspiring others to join in. Places like Crab Bank need protection in order to provide crucial habitats for wildlife throughout the world, and we can all be a part of it.