The waters surrounding Hilton Head Island are home to several hundred Atlantic bottlenose dolphins…between 1200 and 2000 in the warm weather months. Their notoriously friendly and interactive social natures make everyone smile!
Broad Creek and the Calibogue Sound are known as Dolphin Alley, so if you’re staying down near South Beach you are pretty much guaranteed to see them, especially at sunset due to their feeding patterns.
If you want to get up-close-and-personal, however, you must take an official Dolphin Cruise. These outings are guided, narrated dolphin watches in boats ranging from large double-deckers to small craft like a kayak. The large boats have more amenities like restrooms, snack bars, and covered seating, (think SHADE!) whereas the small boats and kayaks will get you MUCH closer to the dolphin action.
If you are lucky you may get to see dolphins engaging in “strand feeding”. This is a feeding behavior unique to our local Dolphin populations, and has been documented and studied by none other than Jacques Cousteau, the famous marine biologist. This is what happens during strand feeding:
At low tide the clever dolphins will team up and working together they circle the fish, herding them into a tighter school and toward a gently sloping mud bank. Then, with an explosive burst of speed, the dolphins create a bow wave which throws the fish up out of the water and onto the mud bank. They then beach themselves to enjoy a feast:
Click HERE to learn more about our favorite Dolphin Cruises!
And Flipper says “Don’t wait…”