Sullivan's Island Year 1

On our class trip, we researched more than the water to figure out how dredging is impacting Charleston's beautiful islands. We took multiple tests and samples of the sand, water, and organisms around the beach. A Marine Biologist helped us throw cast nets in order to collect our biodiversity data. We walked around the perimeter of the beach and mapped our GPS coordinates. We also threw watermelons into the ocean to study how the tides and currents are being affected. All in all, we had a great time at the beach and an even greater time studying it.

3) Introduction 4) Abstract 5) Methods of Testing 6-8) Waves, Tides, & Currents 9) Water Chemistry 10) Island/Beach Morphology 11-12) Sand Composition 13-14) Biodiversity 13) Conclusion

Introduction to Dredging
What is dredging? Dredging is cleaning out the bed of a harbor, river, or other area of water by scooping out mud, weeds, and rubbish with a dredge. What is going on in Charleston? We are dredging out the harbor to make room for bigger cargo ships to enter in so we can make more money. What are the economic implications of dredging in Charleston? The economic implications of dredging the harbor are spending lots of money to dredge and to maintain the dredged harbor but creating more income.

More on the Dredging Project

Benefits? Bigger cargo ships can enter the harbor so we will make more money off off imports and exports. Many jobs are made from the dredging in the harbor. Harms? Harming the ecological environments. Kills sea life and upsets local environmentalists. Where do dredging materials go? They go offshore to create more environments for wildlife. Also go to help stop inshore erosion. Why did we study at Sullivan's? We studied there because it is an area close to the dredging that is effected by it. The tests can show what organisms will be harmed by the dredging.


A seine is a net that is held vertically in the water with buoys attached to the top and weights attached to the bottom. The buoys keep the net afloat and the weights on the bottom of the net stretch it to lay on the sand beneath the water.

Tides & Currents!
In order to test the tides and currents, we used watermelons. We dropped a few into the ocean from the beginning location. We proceeded to track the water movement with an iPad application. We recorded the watermelons, and our results showed that waves move through the water without moving the actual watermelon.!

Cast Nets
The majority of our data was found using a cast net. This is a circular net that has weights attached to the edges of it. This method works best for catching small creatures such as mullet, pipefish, and stargazers.!

Waves,Tides, and Currents
These graphs represent the velocity of the watermelon moving via the rip tide and long shore currents. By testing the currents we can predict what sediments will be deposited and what types of animals we can expect to see. !

Find out more about longshore currents

Find out more on rip tides

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On the left is a tide chart from the 22nd of April to the 25th. On the bottom right is the structure of a wave. !

Water Chemistry

All of the data that we tested was normal. The salinity and temperature was normal and standard. We tested Nitrate, Ammonia, Phosphate, Turbidity and Dissolved Oxygen was normal also. the pH is between7 and 8 which is normal for the location of our area in SC because our water is between salt water which means we have brackish water and it filters out .




This is what sand looks like under a microscope.!

We dug a trench and took samples of the sand. Also we sieved the sand to determine what percentage is in each size class. We found that the sand near the dunes had small shells in it but there were no other major differences in overall sand composition.

The way you can tell if the dredging is effecting the beach, is by the change of composition of the sand. In the picture, the dark line shows a pattern, the composition of the sand. So if there are more patterns Next year it will indicate that the dredging has effected the beach. The dark line in the picture is old soil layer from where the dunes use to be.!

According to our data, the biodiversity results were very positive. We found a variety of different organisms. From shingle-tube worms to Atlantic stingrays, every specimen looked strong and healthy. We also caught an abundance of flounder juveniles with a cast net that our classmates threw out. This only goes to prove that the dredging that has previously been done does not have a negative impact on the biodiversity in Sullivan's Island's waters.!

In conclusion, the Sullivan Island project went really well. The only thing that needs to be changed is on what day we go on. It would have been easier for us to go into the water for seining and cast netting, if we went on a day that was warmer. Also, if we had more activities to do such as, dissection of the animals we found we could collect data from that so that future students could use that data and compare it to the dissection of the animals they find, and maybe even see if there is any adaption or change in their chemistry due to the dredging. Improvements could have been made on our videos for the currents, such as using a tripod so the video isn’t so shaky. Future students should look for changes in marine life diversity, water changes, and sand composition changes post dredging.!