We began our day with a drive down to Murrel’s Inlet and the Wacca Wache Marina. There we met with the Center for Wetland and Marine Studies fleet captain Richard Goldberg who took us on a short boat ride to Sandy Island where we would be surveying the land for evidence of both prehistoric and historic evidence in the interior. As we arrived at the island our host and guide, Furman Long, a representative of The Nature Conservancy, greeted us.
Sandy Island is known to have been an area of Native American activity as well as historic settlement. The Island was largely a part of the rice industry, providing sand to local areas as well as serving as home to some plantations. More recently, some local businessmen bought the island in hopes of developing the property. As the area was surveyed upon the purchase it was found that the red cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, inhabited the island. This main factor, among others, was the catalyst for DOT, Nature Conservation, and Brookgreen Gardens to buy up the island to preserve its ecological setting.
The island has been subject to planned burns in years past to help nature generate itself and prevent forest fires. Unfortunately, last year there was a natural forest fire that affected a large part of the island.
So began our work!
We form a line out of ourselves with about a 10-foot distance between us and walked to perform a surface survey. The surface was heavily covered in pine litter and burn debris with sand underneath. Burned pine trees cover the hilly terrain that also represents the highest point in Georgetown County at 78 feet above sea level.
We covered a 40-acre span and were unable to find any artifacts at the surface. After lunch we moved on to a new location that was a Carolina Bay hoping to find something. The moist environment would have been more preferable to the interior for human activity. We performed a surface survey of the profile area of the bay that was burned, while another part of the group focused their search in a smaller area. The walking survey turned up nothing, but the other group found fragments of prehistoric pottery in more areas that had been disturbed by the construction of firebreaks.
We finished out our day by walking along the sand road that turned up many other fragments of prehistoric pottery.
So the day was a success after all and further investigation of the area outside the interior is sure to turn up more artifacts! We gathered our equipment, thanked Mr. Long, and boarded our boat back to the Wacca Wache Marina!