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Walk the Waterline, Folly Beach's Human Disturbance Campaign

Folly Beach's Lighthouse Inlet features a temporary art installation to help protect shorebirds.

Audubon South Carolina (ASC) is showcasing Folly Beach’s pride for coastal birds in a fun new way this year! To encourage beachgoers to give nesting shorebirds the space they need to successfully raise their young, ASC partnered with Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and local artist, Tennyson Corley, to create an art installation along the walkway to Lighthouse Inlet. This installation features the theme of “Welcome to Folly, Where Shorebirds are the Stars” where patrons are encouraged to give shorebirds the “red carpet treatment”. Folks are encouraged to “Walk the Waterline” because high tides limit the buffer between where people walk and the posted nesting area. Walking along the waterline helps nesting birds peacefully raise their young in the dry ground above the high tide line. 

Worldwide, about 48% of all bird species are suffering population declines (Lees, et al., 2022). This holds true for our seabird and shorebird populations, which have been documented as declining about 70% since the 1950’s and 1973, respectively. In South Carolina, these declines are largely due to human disturbance. These disturbances can be just about anything we do for fun while on the coast, including running, flying kites, boating and walking our dogs. While we enjoy the beach throughout the year, it is important to remember that we can all play a part in protecting our vulnerable beach birds by giving them the space they need to rest during their migrations and nest during the summer. Sharing the shore with birds is easy, and ASC hopes this art installation will remind people of that.

The creative process can be viewed in the short video featured below. Although the artwork is temporary, ASC hopes that the creative way of spreading this message will stick with folks as they continue to visit South Carolina beaches in the future. While at Lighthouse Inlet, visitors can see a welcoming message at the gate entrance reading “Welcome to Folly, Where Shorebirds are the Stars”, a “red carpet” further down the walkway reminding folks to “walk the waterline” and a photo opportunity at the end of the walkway featuring one of Folly’s nesting shorebirds, the Wilson’s Plover! Remember to tag all photos with #ShorebirdStars to get the chance to be featured on our social media platforms! 

This project is funded by and in collaboration with the Atlantic Flyway Human Disturbance Project. ASC staff and volunteers will gauge the effectiveness of this campaign through weekly surveys on the beach. For more information about how other areas along the Atlantic coast are working to protect shorebirds from human disturbance, visit this site. Want to be a bigger part of shorebird conservation in South Carolina? Be a Shorebird Steward! Visit this page for how to get involved. Contact Allyssa Zebrowski at allyssa.zebrowski@audubon.org for questions. 

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