Charleston, United States

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is a South Carolina state agency charged with regulating hunting, fishing, boating, duck stamp orders, state parks, and the conservation efforts of the South Carolina state government.It is directed by seven-member Board of Directors. The governor of South Carolina appoints a member from each of the state's congressional districts, in addition to one at-large board member. The board or governor may appoint citizen's advisory panels to provide recommendations on agency programs.The Department of Natural Resources also oversees the state's soil and water conservation districts, which are special-purpose districts contiguous with each of South Carolina's 46 counties. Each conservation district is managed by six-member boards. Three members of each board are appointed through the Department of Natural Resources, while the other half are directly elected. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.undercurrentnews.com

Commercial shrimp trawling will open in all legal South Carolina waters at 8 a.m. on May 24, and biologists are optimistic about the coming season, reports the Berkley Independent. “So far we’ve seen indications that it should be a good year,” said Mel Bell, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) Office of Fisheries Management. “Of course, after establishing the opening date, based on the condition of the resource, we have no control over how things will go. The success of the season will be up to the hard work of the fishermen and the environmental conditions they encounter throughout the year.” This comes after an unusual year. SCDNR models predicted high shrimp numbers in the spring, but ultimately the 2016 commercial harvest and value were on par with the ten-year averages – commercial trawlers harvested just shy of two million pounds (measured heads-off) with a $7.8 million dockside value. The shrimp season normally opens in full in mid to late-May, sometimes after the opening of eight smaller provisional areas in the state’s outer waters. This year those provisional areas opened on April 20, allowing shrimpers to begin harvesting while still protecting most of the spawning population closer to shore. For the full story click here.


Two South Carolina men were charged after videos showed them forcing beer down an alligator’s throat, according to reports. Joseph Andrew Floyd Jr., 20, and Zachary Lloyd Brown, 21, reportedly picked up the juvenile alligator when they saw it crossing the road on Wednesday and then forced beer down its throat. Read: Woman Calmly Shoos Away Bear Found Snacking in Her Garage: 'You Can't Have It!' The men then posted the videos of the ordeal on social media, authorities said. They also reportedly told police that they then watched the alligator swim away. “We started receiving a lot of e-mails and phone calls about this. People had taken screen shots from Snapchat accounts,” Kyndel McConchie, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, told CNN. In a picture shared by the agency, one man can be seen holding the gator with the beer to its mouth along with the caption “gator shotgun.” Other photos reportedly show smoke being blown into the animal’s face. Read: Grouchy Neighbor Allegedly Unplugged Bounce House That Deflated on Kids at Child's Birthday Party Both men have been charged with harassing wildlife. “Alligators are protected under state law and even federal law where they are still listed as threatened solely due to their similarity of appearance to other endangered crocodilians worldwide,” SCDNR Alligator Program Coordinator Jay Butfiloski added. Watch: 7-Foot-Long Alligator Seen Wandering on Sidewalk Outside Elementary School


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

Research by wildlife biologists from Clemson University and the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center near Georgetown is shattering conventional scientific understanding about American alligator growth and reproduction. For years, it was believed that American alligators continued growing in length until they died, what is called “indeterminate growth.” But a 35-year study of a protected alligator population at the Yawkey Center on the South Carolina coast has found that male and female alligators exhibit “determinate growth.” In other words, they stop growing at some point after they reach sexual maturity. Additionally, females are reproductive far longer than previously thought, 46 years past the onset of sexual maturity in one case, the study found. The study was performed by retired Yawkey Center manager and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Phil Wilkinson, Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science wildlife biologist Thomas Rainwater and three colleagues with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team published its findings in Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Wilkinson, whom Rainwater calls, “one of the grandfathers of South Carolina alligator research,” began examining the Yawkey alligators with names like Truck Biter, Big Bertha, Cudjo, Grover and Bette Davis Eyes in 1979 as part of a population and nesting ecology study, making the Yawkey alligator study the longest known continuous alligator study in the world. “We began by simply trying to determine the best way to count alligators along the South Carolina coast and monitor the population in a scientifically valid way,” Wilkinson said. “We went about looking at nesting as an index of the population. If you know the sex ratio, the adult ratio and that the females lay a clutch of eggs about every third year, you can begin to use those nests as an indicator of what the real population is.” In subsequent years, Wilkinson observed many of the Yawkey gators that were already marked from previous research captures. “We would ride around the property during spring basking time when there are a lot of alligators out and see that a lot of them were marked already. So we knew there was a good chance we could recapture a lot of them and see how much they had grown,” Wilkinson said. From 1981 to 2015, Wilkinson, Rainwater and their colleagues captured hundreds of alligators at Yawkey, approximately 50 of which were adults recaptured from five to 33 years after their previous or initial captures. The captured alligators included 19 males and 31 females. The data revealed that 19 of the 31 female alligators showed no appreciable growth and seven of 19 males showed no appreciable growth. “The dogma for years has been that crocodilians and reptiles in general grow in length until they die,” Rainwater said. “Our study shows that, at least at Yawkey, adult alligators stop growing before they die. We have animals that Phil first caught and tagged back in 1981 that we recaptured in 2016 and they are still exactly the same length they were 35 years ago.” The captured alligators ranged in size from 7 feet to 9 feet 7 inches for females and 10 feet 8 inches to 12 feet 6 inches for males. Rainwater and Wilkinson estimate, on average, the male alligators stopped growing sometime between 25 and 30 years of age. But how do scientists explain giants like the huge gator nicknamed Hunchback that was spotted in Florida in January? “Like people, males can top out and not be very tall or there can be a Wilt Chamberlain in the crowd,” Wilkinson said. Wilkinson and Rainwater also found that female alligators can continue producing viable clutches of eggs for far longer than was previously believed. Some female Yawkey alligators pushing 70 years old are still nesting and have large clutches of fertile eggs. One female alligator in the study is still reproducing at least 46 years after reaching sexual maturity. This flies in the face of conventional science showing that middle-aged females in the prime of their lives have the highest fertility rate. “We’re seeing old animals putting out the same number of viable eggs as they did 35 years ago,” Wilkinson said. “I like to think of them as being like a big old oak tree — they drop acorns every so often when the weather’s right, and then one day they don’t, and that’s the end of it.” Wilkinson and Rainwater say the uniqueness of the Yawkey Center has perpetuated the length of the study and made the alligator discoveries possible. The Yawkey Center consists of North, South and Cat islands and encompasses 24,000 acres.  The center was willed to the state in 1976 by the late Thomas A. Yawkey and is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources through funding by the Yawkey Foundations. The alligator study was conducted on the South Island and Cat Island portions of the center. “Yawkey alligators have been unhunted for almost 100 years. No other place that I know of has a dataset this robust and this long term. You can’t really know how long wild alligators live and grow unless you have an animal that was caught 20 or 30 years ago and you catch it and measure it again,” Rainwater said. “We’ve been able to work with the same animals and they’re protected,” Wilkinson added. “The fact that they’re on a sanctuary means that the world has to leave them alone. It’s like we have a laboratory setup, but it’s in the wild.” Clemson and Department of Natural Resources researchers have been collaborating on wildlife research at Yawkey since 1994, including research and education efforts that focused on sea turtle conservation and coyote ecology and led to the development of a system that reduced coyote destruction of loggerhead sea turtle nests and predation of eggs on the refuge from 60 percent to less than 6 percent. Rainwater is part of a team of Clemson researchers that is trying to understand more about South Carolina alligator  ecology. Clemson University doctoral candidate Abby Lawson is in the fourth and final year of an alligator tracking study that uses GPS satellite transmitters to monitor alligator movements in an effort to create a more accurate way to assess their numbers. Lawson’s work shows water level manipulations in South Carolina’s freshwater impoundments appear to influence alligator movements. The impoundments are managed to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. Rainwater says the Clemson alligator research could have broad implications for how alligator populations at the northern limits of their geographical distribution — which includes South Carolina — are managed. “Abby can use the data we’ve collected on growth and longevity to help determine survivability of animals in the wild and how long animals remain in the population. Once the work is complete, we can then share those data with the Department of Natural Resources and other management agencies,” Rainwater said. “The Yawkey study provides a unique opportunity to estimate baseline survival and growth rates in a protected population. We can compare our findings to hunted areas to better evaluate how harvest may impact alligator populations through changes in survival, reproduction and length differences,” Lawson added. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages alligators as a valuable renewable resource. The department currently issues 1,000 alligator harvest permits among four alligator management units per year under the Public Alligator Harvest Program for use during a season that runs from the second Saturday in September to the second Saturday in October. There are still many mysteries to unlock about alligators, according to Wilkinson. For example, how do they signal to each other when they find an abundant food source? “Sometimes there can be a drawdown in an impoundment, which congregates fish in great numbers. When there is that type of food abundance, you can see 100 gators there eating. Where did they all come from? How do they know where to go? One time we were flying in a helicopter over a marsh when that was going on, and they were coming to that impoundment from every direction. It’s like they were communicating in some way,” Wilkinson said.


Research by wildlife biologists from Clemson University and the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center near Georgetown is shattering conventional scientific understanding about American alligator growth and reproduction. For years, it was believed that American alligators continued growing in length until they died, what is called "indeterminate growth." But a 35-year study of a protected alligator population at the Yawkey Center on the South Carolina coast has found that male and female alligators exhibit "determinate growth." In other words, they stop growing at some point after they reach sexual maturity. Additionally, females are reproductive far longer than previously thought, 46 years past the onset of sexual maturity in one case, the study found. The study was performed by retired Yawkey Center manager and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Phil Wilkinson, Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science wildlife biologist Thomas Rainwater and three colleagues with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team published its findings in Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Wilkinson, whom Rainwater calls, "one of the grandfathers of South Carolina alligator research," began examining the Yawkey alligators with names like Truck Biter, Big Bertha, Cudjo, Grover and Bette Davis Eyes in 1979 as part of a population and nesting ecology study, making the Yawkey alligator study the longest known continuous alligator study in the world. "We began by simply trying to determine the best way to count alligators along the South Carolina coast and monitor the population in a scientifically valid way," Wilkinson said. "We went about looking at nesting as an index of the population. If you know the sex ratio, the adult ratio and that the females lay a clutch of eggs about every third year, you can begin to use those nests as an indicator of what the real population is." In subsequent years, Wilkinson observed many of the Yawkey gators that were already marked from previous research captures. "We would ride around the property during spring basking time when there are a lot of alligators out and see that a lot of them were marked already. So we knew there was a good chance we could recapture a lot of them and see how much they had grown," Wilkinson said. From 1981 to 2015, Wilkinson, Rainwater and their colleagues captured hundreds of alligators at Yawkey, approximately 50 of which were adults recaptured from five to 33 years after their previous or initial captures. The captured alligators included 19 males and 31 females. The data revealed that 19 of the 31 female alligators showed no appreciable growth and seven of 19 males showed no appreciable growth. "The dogma for years has been that crocodilians and reptiles in general grow in length until they die," Rainwater said. "Our study shows that, at least at Yawkey, adult alligators stop growing before they die. We have animals that Phil first caught and tagged back in 1981 that we recaptured in 2016 and they are still exactly the same length they were 35 years ago." The captured alligators ranged in size from 7 feet to 9 feet 7 inches for females and 10 feet 8 inches to 12 feet 6 inches for males. Rainwater and Wilkinson estimate, on average, the male alligators stopped growing sometime between 25 and 30 years of age. But how do scientists explain giants like the huge gator nicknamed Hunchback that was spotted in Florida in January? "Like people, males can top out and not be very tall or there can be a Wilt Chamberlain in the crowd," Wilkinson said. Wilkinson and Rainwater also found that female alligators can continue producing viable clutches of eggs for far longer than was previously believed. Some female Yawkey alligators pushing 70 years old are still nesting and have large clutches of fertile eggs. One female alligator in the study is still reproducing at least 46 years after reaching sexual maturity. This flies in the face of conventional science showing that middle-aged females in the prime of their lives have the highest fertility rate. "We're seeing old animals putting out the same number of viable eggs as they did 35 years ago," Wilkinson said. "I like to think of them as being like a big old oak tree -- they drop acorns every so often when the weather's right, and then one day they don't, and that's the end of it." Wilkinson and Rainwater say the uniqueness of the Yawkey Center has perpetuated the length of the study and made the alligator discoveries possible. The Yawkey Center consists of North, South and Cat islands and encompasses 24,000 acres. The center was willed to the state in 1976 by the late Thomas A. Yawkey and is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources through funding by the Yawkey Foundations. The alligator study was conducted on the South Island and Cat Island portions of the center. "Yawkey alligators have been unhunted for almost 100 years. No other place that I know of has a dataset this robust and this long term. You can't really know how long wild alligators live and grow unless you have an animal that was caught 20 or 30 years ago and you catch it and measure it again," Rainwater said. "We've been able to work with the same animals and they're protected," Wilkinson added. "The fact that they're on a sanctuary means that the world has to leave them alone. It's like we have a laboratory setup, but it's in the wild." Clemson and Department of Natural Resources researchers have been collaborating on wildlife research at Yawkey since 1994, including research and education efforts that focused on sea turtle conservation and coyote ecology and led to the development of a system that reduced coyote destruction of loggerhead sea turtle nests and predation of eggs on the refuge from 60 percent to less than 6 percent. Rainwater is part of a team of Clemson researchers that is trying to understand more about South Carolina alligator ecology. Clemson University doctoral candidate Abby Lawson is in the fourth and final year of an alligator tracking study that uses GPS satellite transmitters to monitor alligator movements in an effort to create a more accurate way to assess their numbers. Lawson's work shows water level manipulations in South Carolina's freshwater impoundments appear to influence alligator movements. The impoundments are managed to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. Rainwater says the Clemson alligator research could have broad implications for how alligator populations at the northern limits of their geographical distribution -- which includes South Carolina -- are managed. "Abby can use the data we've collected on growth and longevity to help determine survivability of animals in the wild and how long animals remain in the population. Once the work is complete, we can then share those data with the Department of Natural Resources and other management agencies," Rainwater said. "The Yawkey study provides a unique opportunity to estimate baseline survival and growth rates in a protected population. We can compare our findings to hunted areas to better evaluate how harvest may impact alligator populations through changes in survival, reproduction and length differences," Lawson added. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages alligators as a valuable renewable resource. The department currently issues 1,000 alligator harvest permits among four alligator management units per year under the Public Alligator Harvest Program for use during a season that runs from the second Saturday in September to the second Saturday in October. There are still many mysteries to unlock about alligators, according to Wilkinson. For example, how do they signal to each other when they find an abundant food source? "Sometimes there can be a drawdown in an impoundment, which congregates fish in great numbers. When there is that type of food abundance, you can see 100 gators there eating. Where did they all come from? How do they know where to go? One time we were flying in a helicopter over a marsh when that was going on, and they were coming to that impoundment from every direction. It's like they were communicating in some way," Wilkinson said.


For years, it was believed that American alligators continued growing in length until they died, what is called "indeterminate growth." But a 35-year study of a protected alligator population at the Yawkey Center on the South Carolina coast has found that male and female alligators exhibit "determinate growth." In other words, they stop growing at some point after they reach sexual maturity. Additionally, females are reproductive far longer than previously thought, 46 years past the onset of sexual maturity in one case, the study found. The study was performed by retired Yawkey Center manager and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Phil Wilkinson, Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science wildlife biologist Thomas Rainwater and three colleagues with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team published its findings in Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Wilkinson, whom Rainwater calls, "one of the grandfathers of South Carolina alligator research," began examining the Yawkey alligators with names like Truck Biter, Big Bertha, Cudjo, Grover and Bette Davis Eyes in 1979 as part of a population and nesting ecology study, making the Yawkey alligator study the longest known continuous alligator study in the world. "We began by simply trying to determine the best way to count alligators along the South Carolina coast and monitor the population in a scientifically valid way," Wilkinson said. "We went about looking at nesting as an index of the population. If you know the sex ratio, the adult ratio and that the females lay a clutch of eggs about every third year, you can begin to use those nests as an indicator of what the real population is." In subsequent years, Wilkinson observed many of the Yawkey gators that were already marked from previous research captures. "We would ride around the property during spring basking time when there are a lot of alligators out and see that a lot of them were marked already. So we knew there was a good chance we could recapture a lot of them and see how much they had grown," Wilkinson said. From 1981 to 2015, Wilkinson, Rainwater and their colleagues captured hundreds of alligators at Yawkey, approximately 50 of which were adults recaptured from five to 33 years after their previous or initial captures. The captured alligators included 19 males and 31 females. The data revealed that 19 of the 31 female alligators showed no appreciable growth and seven of 19 males showed no appreciable growth. "The dogma for years has been that crocodilians and reptiles in general grow in length until they die," Rainwater said. "Our study shows that, at least at Yawkey, adult alligators stop growing before they die. We have animals that Phil first caught and tagged back in 1981 that we recaptured in 2016 and they are still exactly the same length they were 35 years ago." The captured alligators ranged in size from 7 feet to 9 feet 7 inches for females and 10 feet 8 inches to 12 feet 6 inches for males. Rainwater and Wilkinson estimate, on average, the male alligators stopped growing sometime between 25 and 30 years of age. But how do scientists explain giants like the huge gator nicknamed Hunchback that was spotted in Florida in January? "Like people, males can top out and not be very tall or there can be a Wilt Chamberlain in the crowd," Wilkinson said. Wilkinson and Rainwater also found that female alligators can continue producing viable clutches of eggs for far longer than was previously believed. Some female Yawkey alligators pushing 70 years old are still nesting and have large clutches of fertile eggs. One female alligator in the study is still reproducing at least 46 years after reaching sexual maturity. This flies in the face of conventional science showing that middle-aged females in the prime of their lives have the highest fertility rate. "We're seeing old animals putting out the same number of viable eggs as they did 35 years ago," Wilkinson said. "I like to think of them as being like a big old oak tree—they drop acorns every so often when the weather's right, and then one day they don't, and that's the end of it." Wilkinson and Rainwater say the uniqueness of the Yawkey Center has perpetuated the length of the study and made the alligator discoveries possible. The Yawkey Center consists of North, South and Cat islands and encompasses 24,000 acres. The center was willed to the state in 1976 by the late Thomas A. Yawkey and is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources through funding by the Yawkey Foundations. The alligator study was conducted on the South Island and Cat Island portions of the center. "Yawkey alligators have been unhunted for almost 100 years. No other place that I know of has a dataset this robust and this long term. You can't really know how long wild alligators live and grow unless you have an animal that was caught 20 or 30 years ago and you catch it and measure it again," Rainwater said. "We've been able to work with the same animals and they're protected," Wilkinson added. "The fact that they're on a sanctuary means that the world has to leave them alone. It's like we have a laboratory setup, but it's in the wild." Clemson and Department of Natural Resources researchers have been collaborating on wildlife research at Yawkey since 1994, including research and education efforts that focused on sea turtle conservation and coyote ecology and led to the development of a system that reduced coyote destruction of loggerhead sea turtle nests and predation of eggs on the refuge from 60 percent to less than 6 percent. Rainwater is part of a team of Clemson researchers that is trying to understand more about South Carolina alligator ecology. Clemson University doctoral candidate Abby Lawson is in the fourth and final year of an alligator tracking study that uses GPS satellite transmitters to monitor alligator movements in an effort to create a more accurate way to assess their numbers. Lawson's work shows water level manipulations in South Carolina's freshwater impoundments appear to influence alligator movements. The impoundments are managed to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. Rainwater says the Clemson alligator research could have broad implications for how alligator populations at the northern limits of their geographical distribution—which includes South Carolina—are managed. "Abby can use the data we've collected on growth and longevity to help determine survivability of animals in the wild and how long animals remain in the population. Once the work is complete, we can then share those data with the Department of Natural Resources and other management agencies," Rainwater said. "The Yawkey study provides a unique opportunity to estimate baseline survival and growth rates in a protected population. We can compare our findings to hunted areas to better evaluate how harvest may impact alligator populations through changes in survival, reproduction and length differences," Lawson added. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages alligators as a valuable renewable resource. The department currently issues 1,000 alligator harvest permits among four alligator management units per year under the Public Alligator Harvest Program for use during a season that runs from the second Saturday in September to the second Saturday in October. There are still many mysteries to unlock about alligators, according to Wilkinson. For example, how do they signal to each other when they find an abundant food source? "Sometimes there can be a drawdown in an impoundment, which congregates fish in great numbers. When there is that type of food abundance, you can see 100 gators there eating. Where did they all come from? How do they know where to go? One time we were flying in a helicopter over a marsh when that was going on, and they were coming to that impoundment from every direction. It's like they were communicating in some way," Wilkinson said. Explore further: Six things to know about alligators


GEORGETOWN, South Carolina -- Research by wildlife biologists from Clemson University and the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center near Georgetown is shattering conventional scientific understanding about American alligator growth and reproduction. For years, it was believed that American alligators continued growing in length until they died, what is called "indeterminate growth." But a 35-year study of a protected alligator population at the Yawkey Center on the South Carolina coast has found that male and female alligators exhibit "determinate growth." In other words, they stop growing at some point after they reach sexual maturity. Additionally, females are reproductive far longer than previously thought, 46 years past the onset of sexual maturity in one case, the study found. The study was performed by retired Yawkey Center manager and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Phil Wilkinson, Clemson University Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science wildlife biologist Thomas Rainwater and three colleagues with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The team published its findings in Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. Wilkinson, whom Rainwater calls, "one of the grandfathers of South Carolina alligator research," began examining the Yawkey alligators with names like Truck Biter, Big Bertha, Cudjo, Grover and Bette Davis Eyes in 1979 as part of a population and nesting ecology study, making the Yawkey alligator study the longest known continuous alligator study in the world. "We began by simply trying to determine the best way to count alligators along the South Carolina coast and monitor the population in a scientifically valid way," Wilkinson said. "We went about looking at nesting as an index of the population. If you know the sex ratio, the adult ratio and that the females lay a clutch of eggs about every third year, you can begin to use those nests as an indicator of what the real population is." In subsequent years, Wilkinson observed many of the Yawkey gators that were already marked from previous research captures. "We would ride around the property during spring basking time when there are a lot of alligators out and see that a lot of them were marked already. So we knew there was a good chance we could recapture a lot of them and see how much they had grown," Wilkinson said. From 1981 to 2015, Wilkinson, Rainwater and their colleagues captured hundreds of alligators at Yawkey, approximately 50 of which were adults recaptured from five to 33 years after their previous or initial captures. The captured alligators included 19 males and 31 females. The data revealed that 19 of the 31 female alligators showed no appreciable growth and seven of 19 males showed no appreciable growth. "The dogma for years has been that crocodilians and reptiles in general grow in length until they die," Rainwater said. "Our study shows that, at least at Yawkey, adult alligators stop growing before they die. We have animals that Phil first caught and tagged back in 1981 that we recaptured in 2016 and they are still exactly the same length they were 35 years ago." The captured alligators ranged in size from 7 feet to 9 feet 7 inches for females and 10 feet 8 inches to 12 feet 6 inches for males. Rainwater and Wilkinson estimate, on average, the male alligators stopped growing sometime between 25 and 30 years of age. But how do scientists explain giants like the huge gator nicknamed Hunchback that was spotted in Florida in January? "Like people, males can top out and not be very tall or there can be a Wilt Chamberlain in the crowd," Wilkinson said. Wilkinson and Rainwater also found that female alligators can continue producing viable clutches of eggs for far longer than was previously believed. Some female Yawkey alligators pushing 70 years old are still nesting and have large clutches of fertile eggs. One female alligator in the study is still reproducing at least 46 years after reaching sexual maturity. This flies in the face of conventional science showing that middle-aged females in the prime of their lives have the highest fertility rate. "We're seeing old animals putting out the same number of viable eggs as they did 35 years ago," Wilkinson said. "I like to think of them as being like a big old oak tree -- they drop acorns every so often when the weather's right, and then one day they don't, and that's the end of it." Wilkinson and Rainwater say the uniqueness of the Yawkey Center has perpetuated the length of the study and made the alligator discoveries possible. The Yawkey Center consists of North, South and Cat islands and encompasses 24,000 acres. The center was willed to the state in 1976 by the late Thomas A. Yawkey and is owned and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources through funding by the Yawkey Foundations. The alligator study was conducted on the South Island and Cat Island portions of the center. "Yawkey alligators have been unhunted for almost 100 years. No other place that I know of has a dataset this robust and this long term. You can't really know how long wild alligators live and grow unless you have an animal that was caught 20 or 30 years ago and you catch it and measure it again," Rainwater said. "We've been able to work with the same animals and they're protected," Wilkinson added. "The fact that they're on a sanctuary means that the world has to leave them alone. It's like we have a laboratory setup, but it's in the wild." Clemson and Department of Natural Resources researchers have been collaborating on wildlife research at Yawkey since 1994, including research and education efforts that focused on sea turtle conservation and coyote ecology and led to the development of a system that reduced coyote destruction of loggerhead sea turtle nests and predation of eggs on the refuge from 60 percent to less than 6 percent. Rainwater is part of a team of Clemson researchers that is trying to understand more about South Carolina alligator ecology. Clemson University doctoral candidate Abby Lawson is in the fourth and final year of an alligator tracking study that uses GPS satellite transmitters to monitor alligator movements in an effort to create a more accurate way to assess their numbers. Lawson's work shows water level manipulations in South Carolina's freshwater impoundments appear to influence alligator movements. The impoundments are managed to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. Rainwater says the Clemson alligator research could have broad implications for how alligator populations at the northern limits of their geographical distribution -- which includes South Carolina -- are managed. "Abby can use the data we've collected on growth and longevity to help determine survivability of animals in the wild and how long animals remain in the population. Once the work is complete, we can then share those data with the Department of Natural Resources and other management agencies," Rainwater said. "The Yawkey study provides a unique opportunity to estimate baseline survival and growth rates in a protected population. We can compare our findings to hunted areas to better evaluate how harvest may impact alligator populations through changes in survival, reproduction and length differences," Lawson added. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources manages alligators as a valuable renewable resource. The department currently issues 1,000 alligator harvest permits among four alligator management units per year under the Public Alligator Harvest Program for use during a season that runs from the second Saturday in September to the second Saturday in October. There are still many mysteries to unlock about alligators, according to Wilkinson. For example, how do they signal to each other when they find an abundant food source? "Sometimes there can be a drawdown in an impoundment, which congregates fish in great numbers. When there is that type of food abundance, you can see 100 gators there eating. Where did they all come from? How do they know where to go? One time we were flying in a helicopter over a marsh when that was going on, and they were coming to that impoundment from every direction. It's like they were communicating in some way," Wilkinson said.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: hosted2.ap.org

(AP) — Two dead leatherback sea turtles have been discovered along South Carolina's coast. The Post and Courier reports (http://bit.ly/2q93SQF ) that the large sea turtles are rarely seen in the area. One was found dead on the beach in front of Fort Moultrie on Friday, while another was first spotted already decomposing behind a sea wall on Isle of Palms on Saturday. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources sea turtle recovery coordinator Michelle Pate says both turtles were hit by boats. She says that 14 leatherbacks have washed up dead since January, with 10 of those in the past three weeks. Most of the turtles, which are endangered, had died from boat strikes.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.marketwired.com

OCEARCH and its collaborating scientists will focus on mature white sharks in GA, SC, and NC PARK CITY, UT--(Marketwired - February 22, 2017) - After confirming the white shark nursery in Long Island, NY and satellite-tagging the first male white shark in Nantucket, MA, OCEARCH, a globally recognized nonprofit dedicated to the study and tracking of keystone marine species such as great white sharks and tiger sharks, is heading to the lowcountry -- Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina -- for the first time. OCEARCH's 28th expedition begins on February 22, 2017 and ends on March 15, 2017, kicking off in Savannah, GA with education and outreach events before heading to Hilton Head, SC to start the research on the water. "Data from the OCEARCH global Shark Tracker suggest our nearshore waters are critical overwintering habitat for white sharks. We are hopeful that this expedition will allow us to build on existing data to define habitat most critical to these apex predators," said Bryan Frazier, expedition lead scientist and Marine Biologist at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The goal of this expedition is to gather data on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of sharks in the North Atlantic Ocean, and to increase the sample size of the Great White Shark research started in 2012 in Cape Cod, MA. "The Lowcountry region is a critical habitat for white sharks," said Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader. "We are looking to enable local researchers to expand the data on the species as well as the understanding of their local resources." Combined with the nine juvenile white sharks OCEARCH tagged in Long Island, NY and the six white sharks tagged in Nantucket, MA in 2016, there are now a total of 20 satellite-tagged white sharks of various life stages swimming around the North Atlantic; however, scientists need a larger sample size to have a complete understanding of the species' habitat usage. OCEARCH's mission is to enable data collection by providing collaborating researchers and institutions unprecedented access to mature marine animals. Up to 17 different researchers from 13 various institutions will receive biological samples from each animal tagged, allowing them to analyze the results from the blood, mucus, muscle, parasite, genetic, and other samples collected. Scientists will use these samples to conduct several studies, including understanding the sharks' reproductive condition. The expedition will include scientists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Mote Marine Laboratory, University of North Florida, Adventure Aquarium, Georgia Aquarium, Georgia Southern, University of South Florida, University of South Carolina-Beaufort, WCS' New York Aquarium, University of Massachusetts, Cape Eleuthera Institute, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Auburn University, and College of Charleston. All sharks will be fitted with a satellite transmitter tag, PSAT tag, and an acoustic tag. As the sharks' fins break the surface, the satellite tag will transmit their locations. You can follow the sharks tagged during Expedition Lowcountry by accessing the near-real time, free online Global Shark Tracker or by downloading the Global Shark Tracker App available for Apple and Android platforms. The expedition comes at an opportune time as OCEARCH announces a multi-year agreement with Southern Tide, a Greenville, SC-based lifestyle apparel brand that boasts exceptional craftsmanship and classic design. The brand will also spearhead wholesale opportunities to increase awareness for OCEARCH conservation efforts. "Southern Tide is thrilled to partner with OCEARCH and to support their important research," said Christopher Heyn, Southern Tide CEO. "Our connection to OCEARCH evolved organically; it is true to who we are as a brand, and our coastal roots. We could not be more pleased with this collaboration and are very excited that this upcoming expedition is happening in our backyard." About OCEARCH: OCEARCH is a recognized world leader in generating critical scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species such as great white and tiger sharks, in conjunction with conservation outreach and education at a measurable global scale. OCEARCH shares real-time migration data through OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker -- In 2015, OCEARCH open-sourced the data on the Global Shark Tracker to over 15 million users. OCEARCH also inspires current and future generations of explorers, scientists, and stewards of the ocean through its STEM Learning Program. The free STEM Curriculum, available for grades K-8 and created in partnership with Landry's, Inc. enables students to learn STEM skills while following the real-time data on the movements of their favorite sharks. In partnership with Costa Sunglasses and YETI Coolers, the researchers OCEARCH supports work aboard the M/V OCEARCH, a 126' Cat-powered vessel equipped with a 75,000 lb. hydraulic research platform, where the ship serves as both mothership and at-sea laboratory. Scientists have approximately 15 minutes of access to live, mature sharks to conduct up to 12 studies. The sharks are measured, tissue and blood samples are collected, and satellite and acoustic transmitters are attached. Over 146 researchers from 80 regional and international institutions have partnered with OCEARCH. About Costa: As the leading manufacturer of the world's clearest polarized performance sunglasses, Costa offers superior lens technology and unparalleled fit and durability. Still handcrafted today in Florida, Costa has created the highest quality, best performing sunglasses for outdoor enthusiasts since 1983. For Costa, conservation is all about sustainable fishing. Many fisheries that should be vibrant and healthy are all but devoid of native fish because they have fallen victim to poor fishing practices, unregulated development, lack of watershed protection or all of the above. Costa works with partners around the world to help increase awareness and influence policy so that both the fish and fishermen of tomorrow will have healthy waters to enjoy. Costa encourages others to help in any way they can. About Southern Tide: Founded in 2006, Southern Tide is a Greenville, S.C.-based lifestyle apparel brand that boasts exceptional craftsmanship and classic design. Southern Tide is best known for its Skipjack Polo, deemed by many to be the finest, most comfortable polo shirt. In addition to the Skipjack Polo, Southern Tide offers a variety of apparel and accessory products. In 2013, the company was named to the Inc. 5,000 list for the third consecutive year and represented the fastest growing apparel company to make the list. Southern Tide is available for purchase in more than 850 specialty retailers and premium department stores in more than 45 states across the United States as well as online at www.southerntide.com. Southern Tide is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oxford Industries. ( : OXM)


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: EDUCATION/HUMAN RESOURCES,OCE | Award Amount: 285.47K | Year: 2013

This award provides renewed funding for a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources located in Charleston, SC. The proposed 12-week summer internship program will provide laboratory and field-based research expertise to eight undergraduate students from across the nation each summer for three years. The REU Site draws mentors, facilities, equipment and experiences from the closely situated Federal and state research institutions that comprise the Marine Resources Center at Fort Johnson, Charleston, South Carolina. Students will be required to design and complete independent mentor-guided research projects and will attend classes on statistics, scientific writing, and presentation skills to train them for successful future careers in the marine and environmental sciences. As final products of the program, students will be required to prepare both a written final report and an oral presentation on the findings from their projects. Oral presentations will be given as part of a day-long research colloquium. Following the program, students are encouraged to attend a professional meeting or conference to present their work.
Funding supports student stipends, student travel to and from Charleston, dormatory housing during the program and some administrative expenses.


Grant
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 58.55K | Year: 2012

The Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources located in Charleston, SC will host five students during a 12-week summer internship program. The Minorities in Marine and Environmental Sciences (MIMES) Program will provide a great breadth of laboratory and field-based research expertise to these undergraduate students who will be recruited from across the nation. This site has a proven track record of incorporating expert mentors, facilities, equipment and experiences from the closely situated Federal and state research institutions that comprise the Marine Resources Center at Fort Johnson, Charleston, South Carolina. Students will be required to design and complete rigorous, independent mentor-guided research projects. Furthermore, students will attend classes on statistics, scientific writing, and presentation skills to train them for successful future careers in the marine and environmental sciences. As final products of the program, students will be required to prepare both a written final report and an oral presentation on the findings from their projects. Oral presentations will be given as part of a day-long research colloquium. Following the program, students are encouraged to attend a professional meeting or conference to present their work.

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