It’s always magical to see the dolphins on Charleston Harbor on an OM Sailing Charter. And it’s pretty easy too given their unique nature.
CHARLESTON’S UNIQUE DOLPHIN
If you are new to low country, you may not know that Charleston Harbor is home to a unique kind of dolphin, the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin. It is a charming creature that is both curious and graceful, social and intelligent.
It is a warm-blooded mammal that surfaces regularly for air (the blow hole is it’s nostrils). While they can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes, they prefer to surface every 2 minutes or so, meaning guests of an Om Sailing Charter have plenty of opportunities to see them.
Often you will see them off in the distance, a few dozen feet from the boat. Is easy to be tricked when you see the dorsal fin in the waves. They move so quickly, it can seem like you’ve spotted one or two. But Charleston’s bottlenose dolphins travel in pods from 12 to 25 individuals.
This social dynamic helps Charleston’s dolphins with their unique feeding strategy called “stranding”. The dolphins create a wave and chase their prey onto land, temporary stranding themselves on the shore. This feeding technique is unique to the dolphins of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
The dolphin’s social nature is also needed for family affairs. A mother dolphin gestates for 12 months, and after birthing in shallow water, with the help of dolphin midwives, the baby must be quickly taken to the surface for its first breath. It will nurse for a year and stay with mama for up to six years.
CHARLESTON’S DOLPHIN SIGHTINGS
While dolphin sightings are common on an Om Sailing Charter, the lucky among you may get to see a dolphin jump. A bottlenose dolphin can jump up to 20 feet into the air, and can dive an impressive 1000 feet (which are why we glad it can hold its breath for so long!)
But maybe they don’t need to, as they are also extremely fast swimmers. Charleston’s dolphin can move at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. That’s fast enough to keep up with speeding boats. On rare occasions, you may even enjoy the thrill as a dolphin or pod hitches a ride on the wave at the bow of the boat. The pressure created by the boat moving through the water seems to be a joy ride for this perma-smiled finned mammal.
CHARLESTON’S DOLPHIN SIGHTING CONDITIONS
When is the best time to see Charleston’s dolphins on an Om Sailing Charter? Anytime really, but the chance may be a little higher with the following conditions:
- LOW TIDE– it’s their favorite feeding time.
- LIGHT WIND– while not the best for sailing, it does mean the waves are calmer and it’s easier to see the dorsal fins.
- EARLY FALL– while dolphins are active throughout the year, they get super busy in September and October.
CHARLESTON’S DOLPHIN FUN FACTS
If you want to know more about Charleston’s dolphin on an Om Sailing Charter, check out these facts from Charleston Magazine, August 2015 addition:
- An individual dolphin can grow up to 12 feet long and weight up to 1400 pounds, but most are much smaller.
- When asleep, half of the dolphin’s brain remains active, guiding it to the surface at regular intervals.
- Dolphins “talk” to one another with clicks, whistles, squeaks, and moans. Every dolphin has its own signature whistle to distinguish itself from its companions.
- They also communicate through body language such as leaps, head butts, and tail slaps and are known to play chase, use objects to interact, and throw seaweed amongst themselves.
- Dolphins tend to live for about twenty years, but some have been known to live as much as forty years.
- Dolphins have been known to save swimmers and divers by pushing them to the water’s surface or circling them to offer protection from sharks, which are a personal enemy since some larger species prey on dolphins, especially calves.
- The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act makes it illegal to kill, capture, feed, or harass a dolphin. In addition to leaving these wild animals alone, individuals can easily help them by keeping trash out of our waters—from fishing line to Styrofoam cups.
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Om Sailing Charters is Charleston's premier yacht charter service. We offer the largest and most luxurious catamaran in Charleston Harbor. This is not just a sail on the harbor this is a glimpse of the sailing lifestyle. Professionally captained by a US Coast Guard licensed and rated Master, we provide our guests total confidence in their safety. Located less than five miles from the heart of Downtown Charleston, we invite you to read our many 5-star reviews on Trip Advisor. Contact us today to schedule your Sunset Cruise in Charleston South Carolina.