Myrtle Beach, SC 2019

     In October of 2019, Becky (my wife) and I went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for a week during the Fall Break.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area map

     Myrtle Beach is a coastal city on the East Coast of the Southern United States in South Carolina. It is in the center of a large and continuous 97 km stretch of beach known as “The Grand Strand” in northeastern South Carolina.

Becky on the Boardwalk of the Central Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 2019

     Hosting over 20 million visitors annually, the Grand Strand is home to an array of tourist attractions, and the area receives a large influx of visitors during all seasons.  Pictured above, The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk opened in 2010 and has been recognized as the nation’s #3 boardwalk by National Geographic.

Myrtle Beach Skywheel, South Carolina, (looking southwest).

     Pictured above, the Myrtle Beach Skywheel opened at the boardwalk in 2011, and is a 61 m observation wheel, similar to a ferris wheel, with glass gondolas that look over the Atlantic Ocean. This is the first wheel of its kind in the U.S..  I took the image from the Myrtle Beach Pier, pictured below.

Picture taken from underneath the Myrtle Beach Pier

     The central part of the Grand Strand, occupied in part by the City of Myrtle Beach, is one of the longest stretches of the U.S. eastern seaboard that is not protected by barrier islands. For a distance of more than 50 km, open-ocean processes act directly on the mainland. Landward of the beaches, adjacent upland elevations rise quickly to more than 10 m above local mean sea level, putting most of the city above the flood zone. Average rates of shoreline change in this area are relatively low, except around swashes where the shoreline is migrating across small fluvial valleys that drain the adjacent upland. The relative stability of the Myrtle Beach coastline is largely controlled by sedimentary rock and erosion-resistant deposits of ancient shorelines that underlie the area.

A Warning-sign at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina

     Just a few kilometers south of Myrtle Beach is Huntington Beach State Park.  A jewel of the Grand Strand, Huntington Beach State Park is a beautiful combination of beaches, marshes, woods, and trails with a stone castle at its heart! 

Alligator swimming in the Salt Marsh at the Huntington Beach State Park, (note the alligator in the water ).

     Becky and I, started exploring the area with a walk along the semi-freshwater pond that we passed on our drive in. There we saw indigenous wildlife. Pictured above, on the opposite side is a salt marsh that ebbs and flows with the ocean tides filled with oysters, fish, birds, alligators and wildlife.

Image taken from a sign on the bridge that separates the freshwater lake and saltwater marsh.  It explains the “rice trunk” concept.

     Pictured below, sitting on a rice trunk is a Great Egret.  This elegant bird has remarkable white plumage and develops showy plumes during the breeding season. Great Egrets can be confused with Snowy Egrets, which has a similar body shape and plumage. Great Egrets are noticeably larger than Snowy Egrets, but if a size comparison is not available, bill color is a useful trait. Great Egrets have large, pointed, yellow bills whereas Snowy Egrets have black bills.   Great Egrets wade in shallow water to spear fish and other small aquatic animals. While they may employ a sit-and-wait technique to capture their food, sometimes they are much more animated, running back and forth through the water with their wings spread, chasing their prey. 

Juvenile-Snowy Egret at the Huntington Beach State Park

     Pictured below, is a Little Blue Heron.  Adult Little Blue Herons are very dark all over. At close range or in good light, they have a rich purple-maroon head and neck and dark slaty-blue body. They have yellow eyes, greenish legs, and a bill that is pale blue at the base, black at the tip.  The Little Blue Heron is a stand-and-wait predator, rather than a frenetic, dashing-about predator. They watch the water for fish and other small morsels, changing locations by walking slowly or by flying to a completely different site.

Little Blue Heron at the Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina

          Picture below is the Great Blue Heron.  The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the North American herons with long legs, a sinuous neck, and thick, daggerlike bill. Head, chest, and wing plumes give a shaggy appearance. In flight, the Great Blue Heron curls its neck into a tight “S” shape; its wings are broad and rounded and its legs trail well beyond the tail.  Great Blue Herons appear blue-gray from a distance, with a wide black stripe over the eye. In flight, the upper side of the wing is two-toned: pale on the forewing and darker on the flight feathers.  Hunting Great Blue Herons wade slowly or stand statue-like, stalking fish and other prey in shallow water or open fields. Watch for the lightning-fast thrust of the neck and head as they stab with their strong bills. Their very slow wingbeats, tucked-in neck and trailing legs create an unmistakable image in flight.

The Great Blue Heron at the Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina

At the beach to the east of the Saltwater Swamp, we found a wide, beautiful expanses of white sand.  The park, originally property of Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer M. Huntington, was leased after his death and takes its name from him.  The 10 km2 tract was leased to the state in 1960 for use as a state park.

The wide and open beach at the Huntington Beach State Park, S.C.
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