Seabird Sanctuaries - Crab Bank
Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary, located at the mouth of Shem Creek in Charleston Harbor in Charleston County, was established to protect significant nesting habitat of sea and shorebirds. The island was originally formed with the placement of dredged materials in the 1950s and 60s, but has eroded significantly over time. Nesting was first documented on Crab Bank in 1979.
Crab Bank supports colonies of nesting waterbirds because of its isolated nature and lack of mammalian predators. Although all species may not nest on the island each year, examples of species that have used the island include: brown pelican, least tern, royal tern, black skimmer, gull-billed tern, sandwich tern, common tern, laughing gull, Wilson's plover, American oystercatcher, willet, great egret, snowy egret, tricolored heron, and ibis. Besides providing nesting habitat, the sanctuary provides winter loafing and feeding areas for numerous species.
The colonial nesting behavior of these birds makes them very susceptible to disturbance. Birds are densely packed into breeding sites during the nesting season, rendering the entire rookery susceptible to disruption or destruction. In addition, migratory and wintering shorebirds and seabirds need periods of rest and foraging free from disturbance to survive long journeys and inclement weather. Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary is closed to public use from March 15 thru October 15. The area may be viewed from boats during these months and is accessible to the public below the high water tidal line from October 16 thru March 14. Dogs are prohibited year round and camping is not allowed.
Also, Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary has the designation of an "Important Bird Area" in South Carolina. The purpose of the Important Bird Area (IBA) program is to identify sites that provide vital habitat for birds using a scientific set of criteria. For additional information on SC Important Bird Areas visit SC Audubon Society.
Directions to Property
Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary is located at the mouth of Shem Creek in Charleston Harbor in Charleston County.
Hours of Operation
Due to bird nesting activity, this Preserve is closed to public use from March 15 thru October 15. The area may be viewed from boats during these months and is accessible to the public below the high water tidal line from October 16 thru March 14.
Closed one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.
Calendar of Events and Closures
Currently there are no events for this property.
Additional Regulations for Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary
Regulation Number: 50-11-860
- No dogs are allowed.
- No person may enter any area of the preserve designated as a nesting area for birds.
- March 15 through October 15 the area is closed to all access including the intertidal zone between low and high tide waterlines.
- October 16 through March 14 access is allowed only in the intertidal zone between low and high tide waterlines.
- No motorized vehicles, bicycles or horses.
The information provided on these web pages are for information only. Changes are made on the DNR's web site as new legislation is passed. Any discrepancy between these web pages and any statute or regulation shall be governed by the statute or regulation.