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Tides Experiences on Tour

dolphin standing marsh banks

Low Tide Experience

No two tours with Island Skiff Adventure Tours are alike and one of those contributing factors is the height of the tide during your adventure. Besides the change in the landscape, wildlife behavior changes with the tides.

Dolphins tend to be opportunist feeders which means they eat mostly what is available to them in the moment. They eat roughly 10 to 15 pound of food per day. Seeing a dolphin eat can be a rare sighting, but it seems to happen more frequently during a lower tide. School of fish moving in a fraction of the water create an opportunity for dolphin to feed in a few ways. One of the most incredible ways is called strand feeding. Strand feeding is a unique event that is said to only be seen between the middle of South Carolina and the coastal islands of Georgia. Hilton Head Island’s year-round bottlenose dolphin population have received international attention for demonstrating this feeding practice. Strand feeding is when a small group of dolphins find an oyster-free creek bank to push a school of bait fish onto the shore. As they herd the fish up the bank, they follow the wave they have created that then “strands” them out of the water. The group then inch up as far as they can onto the bank and gobble up the beached fish before returning into the water. This is a learned behavior and not instinctual for all dolphins.

birds standing in marsh feeding at low tide

Dolphin are not the only hungry creatures out during a low tide. Birds take full advantage of the easy to spot fish, shrimp and crabs in the lower waters. You can see the birds dive into the water or feeding in the shallow creek mouths. Some birds you may encounter are herons, egrets, spoonbills and pelicans. On a low to mid tide tour, you will also notice that you will be able to see more oyster beds along the banks. If you aren’t familiar with oyster shells, be warned that they are razor sharp and beds should be avoided. They are great to see from a safe distance.

A low to mid tide experience is a great way to see how the local ecosystem is balanced and thrives throughout the year. If you want the chance to see local creature during mealtime, a lower tide is your best option.

Dolphin jumping in water near boat

High Tide Experience

The height of the tide during your journey is one of the contributing aspects to the uniqueness of each tour with Island Skiff Adventure Tours. Along with the changes in the environment, the tides also affect wildlife behavior.

While the focus of our tours is on wildlife and the incredible natural beauty of the area, there is nothing quite as fun as a day on the water. A higher tide means more water around you and your boat. This allows guests to pick up speed for safe fun runs through the grass areas. On a tour during high tide, you have more flexibility on where you can maneuver the boat since there isn’t the risk of running across oyster beds and other obstacles below. You are the driver of your own boat, and this is the time feel the thrill of being out in an incredibly beautiful waterway. Boats are not the only ones who have a little extra fun during a high tide.

catamaran skiff near dolphins in hilton head waters

Dolphins are very social and playful creatures, and a high tide is typically when you will see larger pods congregating in the deeper areas of the Calibogue Sound and other portions of our route. When the pod is together, they engage in mating activities, play and group hunting. Using their clicking echolocation, the large pod of dolphins find fish in the deeper waters. Even when the tide is high, they still want to eat. If you are hoping for a chance to see a dolphin jump, high tide is when our bottle nose finned friends like to put on a show. The dolphin of the Lowcountry notoriously coexist well with boats, and it sometimes feels like they know they have a captivated audience watching. There are few words besides magical to describe how special it is to see dolphin play in nature. Seeing them jump out of the water on their own accord is a reminder of how physical these creatures are. The local waterways provide the perfect landscape for the necessary diet and exercise they need.

A high tide experience is a great way to have more area to explore in your drive it yourself boats and to see dolphins congregate in deeper waters.