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AC Repair in Seabrook Island, SC

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South Carolina is one of the most beautiful places in the United States to call home. However, our local weather can be extreme - high temps and thick humidity in the summer and chilly winter weather during cold months. As a local HVAC company in Seabrook Island, SC, we know how crucial it is to have a quality HVAC system in your home and experienced technicians to keep it working correctly.

With more than 35 years of serving the Lowcountry, we are proud to be an active part of our local community. As your neighbors, we are here for all of your HVAC needs, whether you need a new AC unit installed this summer or a heat pump replacement this winter. With a reliable team of NATE-certified technicians and decades of experience in our industry, no HVAC project is too big or small for us to handle.

We offer highly competitive pricing and convenient financing options for all of our clients. At the end of the day, our goal is to make it easy and affordable to live comfortably in your home all year long. We are committed to hard work, honesty, and integrity with every service we offer. If you aren't 100% satisfied with our work, we'll do our part to make it right.

Service Areas

Here are just a few of the reasons why homeowners and business owners in South Carolina trust Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

  • We have been serving clients in South Carolina since 1983 - before many of our clients were even born!
  • We provide a wide range of HVAC services for both heating and air conditioning.
  • We are committed to giving our clients the highest quality products and services at affordable prices.
  • As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the best HVAC units available.
  • We are members of the South Carolina Association of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors.
  • We are members of our local Chamber of Commerce and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

If you need a trusted AC repair company in Seabrook Island, know that our team is geared up and ready to help you today. While you browse our website, have a look at just a few of our specialties here at Action Heating & Air Conditioning:

Air Conditioning Repair in Seabrook Island, SC

Summers in the Lowcountry are hot, humid, and sticky. After a long day at the beach or downtown with your friends, nothing feels better than kicking back on the sofa while your air conditioning cools you off. On the other hand, nothing feels worse than walking into your home and feeling warm, stale air hit your face. Those who know, know - having your AC go out during a South Carolina summer is no joke. With time, a relatively minor inconvenience can turn into a real health problem.

In situations like these, something has probably gone wrong with your HVAC system. If your AC has stopped working in the middle of summer, it's time to call Action Heating & Air Conditioning right away. Our team of certified HVAC professionals has years of experience repairing and servicing AC equipment. It doesn't matter how old your unit is or what brand you bought - we have the skills to get your home comfort system up and running in no time.

Heating And Air Conditioning Seabrook Island, SC
Here are just a few of the AC issues that our talented team can help solve for you:
 Heating And Air Conditioning Services Seabrook Island, SC

Air Conditioning Drainage Block

Over time, condensation builds up in your AC equipment because of its cooling process. This accumulated byproduct must be drained regularly, or the increased amounts of moisture can damage your air conditioner's components.

 AC Repair Services Seabrook Island, SC

Air Conditioning Refrigerant Leak

Refrigerant is the substance responsible for keeping your home nice and cool in the summer. When refrigerant levels drop due to a leak, it will affect your AC equipment's ability to cool your home. If your HVAC unit isn't blowing cold air, this could be a reason why.

 HVAC Repair Services Seabrook Island, SC

Heater Keeps Running

This is a common AC issue in South Carolina and the U.S. in general. Sometimes this problem is fixed by switching your thermostat to "auto." If that doesn't work, you may have a broken thermostat or a wiring issue that needs to be addressed quickly.

 Air Conditioning Seabrook Island, SC

Burning Odors

It's normal for your heater to produce a slight burning smell if it hasn't been used in a while. However, if you are experiencing a persistent burning smell during the summer months when your air conditioning is on, it could be a serious problem. Turn off your HVAC system immediately and call our office as soon as possible so that we may send out a technician to diagnose your problem.

 AC Repair Seabrook Island, SC

Broken Air Conditioning Compressor Fan

This fan plays an important role in your AC unit's heat transfer process. When your air conditioning fan breaks, your AC equipment won't be able to cool your home off in the summer when it's needed the most.

Our Special Offers

One of our goals as a company is to provide HVAC repair services at fair and competitive prices. In addition, we want you to feel confident about investing in high-quality heating and cooling systems without having to worry a lot about the costs. We make sure to provide honest and accurate quotes and we offer a variety of financing options. We want you to get the best bang for your buck, so here are some special offers.

See Our Offer

If you are experiencing any of the problems above, be sure to hire a professional contractor to fix your issues. For your safety, don't ever try to make HVAC repairs on your own unless you are trained. When the time come to have your air conditioning system repaired, our team of licensed AC technicians will handle all of the hard work on your behalf. That way, you can stay safe and have peace of mind knowing you're in good hands.

Air Conditioning Install in Seabrook Island, SC

Your HVAC system works hard all year long. If you have gone years without much maintenance or AC repair, you probably bought a great HVAC unit. However, with constant use and even normal wear and tear, even the highest-quality HVAC systems are prone to malfunctions. Eventually, it will need to be replaced.

If you need an energy-efficient, reliable cooling system for your home or business, you have come to the right place. We have decades of experience installing new AC systems for our clients and can handle any installation project you have. As a Carrier® Factory Authorized Dealer, we have the most top-rated AC systems available in South Carolina.

At Action Heating & Air Conditioning, we know that buying a new air conditioner and installing it can be a huge source of stress. But when you work with us, it doesn't have to be that way. We have made it our mission to make the AC installation process easy and efficient for our customers. That way, they can focus more on living life and enjoying their home while we work hard on their AC install in Seabrook Island.

Whether you plan to replace a faulty air conditioning system or need a Carrier unit for your new construction home, we have got you covered. We will work with you directly to find the best fit for your home and budget. We are also happy to answer all of your AC installation questions prior to and during your initial service appointment.

 Heater Repair Services Seabrook Island, SC

Common Signs That You Need a New AC Install in Seabrook Island, SC

Trying to figure out whether your air conditioner needs to be repaired or replaced can be a tricky decision to make. Most people have a hard time letting things go, and that includes AC units. It can be hard to know when to let go of the old and welcome in the new. To help save you time and make your decision a little easier, keep the following signs in mind. If you find yourself saying, "that sounds like my AC unit," it might be time for a new air conditioning installation.

 HVAC Repair Seabrook Island, SC

Strange Noises

Almost all air conditioners make a bit of low-level noise as they warm up and turn off. However, if you hear loud, unusual noises, it might be a sign that your air conditioner's time is coming to an end. Buzzing and rattling noises are often indicators of a loose part. Grinding and whistling noises may mean something more serious is happening. Because these issues won't dissipate over time, it's crucial to have your air conditioner examined if you hear loud, strange noises.

Frequent Repairs

Seabrook Island AC repair is essential for keeping your air conditioner working efficiently. Sometimes, however, it makes more sense from a cost perspective to install a replacement system. This is especially true if your repairs are racking up. Some AC experts suggest using the "$5,000 rule" if you're considering a new AC install. Simply multiply the age of your air conditioner by the costs you have been paying to repair your unit. If that amount is over $5,000, it may make more financial sense to install a new air conditioner rather than pay for expensive repairs throughout the year.

Higher Energy Bills

If you notice that your energy bill has significantly increased in price, it could be a sign that your HVAC unit is struggling to cool your home effectively. Try to be mindful of your air conditioner's cooling cycles. If you notice frequent cycles, even in the summer, it could be the reason for your increased energy bill. In these cases, it's best to have an expert test your system to see if a repair or replacement option is best for your family.

Age of Air Conditioning Unit

This sign is a no-brainer and one of the easiest ways to tell if you need to install a new AC system. On average, your HVAC unit will have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. If your unit is more than ten years old and doesn't have the "pizzaz" that it once had, it might be time to think about installing a new air conditioning unit.

R-22 Refrigerant

Old air conditioners usually require a type of refrigerant called R-22. This substance is very harmful to the environment and has been all but outlawed on newer HVAC systems. If your AC unit is old enough to require R-22, you should give serious thought to replacing your system with a newer, environmentally friendly solution.

Call Action Heating & Air Conditioning Today!

Over our 35+ year history, we have built our reputation on honesty, skilled workmanship, and reasonable pricing. If you are on the hunt for the highest quality air conditioning repair in Seabrook Island, SC, give our office a call today.

Call us at 843-890-0532

Protecting Your Investment

Your air conditioning system works very hard every day, all year long to keep your home comfy and cool. Machines that work hard year-round are going to require maintenance and ongoing services to stay operational.

As a family-owned and operated HVAC company in Seabrook Island, SC, we know better than anyone how expensive it can be to maintain an AC unit. We know that money doesn't grow on trees. We also understand that finding last-minute resources to fix an air conditioning system can be challenging. That is why we offer extended warranties for your new or existing AC equipment. With an extended warranty from Action Heating & Air Conditioning, you benefit from repairs, replacement, and additional services covered under warranty. That way, you can enjoy your HVAC products as long as possible.

 Heating And AC Services Seabrook Island, SC
If you're having second thoughts about purchasing an extended warranty, consider these points:
  • Generally speaking, HVAC equipment lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years. However, warranties provided by the factory will often expire before the service life of your cooling unit is over. With an extended warranty, your indoor comfort system is covered even if the factory warranty expires.
  • Having an extended warranty on your AC system gives you the chance to project and plan for any HVAC costs. This helps you balance your budget and anticipate expenses so you aren't caught off guard. Having a warranty will also help protect your budget against increases in labor and parts costs due to inflation.
  • If you're thinking of selling your home, having an extended warranty may help raise your home's value. You may also be able to transfer your extended warranty to your new home if you choose to do so.

Latest News in Seabrook Island, SC

The 12 Best South Carolina Islands to Visit

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. You can learn more about that process here.You’ve already been charmed by Charleston, maybe even made the trip to some ...

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. You can learn more about that process here.

You’ve already been charmed by Charleston, maybe even made the trip to some of South Carolina’s best small towns like Bluffton, Georgetown? and Mount Pleasant. But there’s a lot more awesomeness waiting to be discovered in the Palmetto State…or, shall we say, just off the coast. South Carolina has some really incredible islands that are perfect for vacation, whether you’re intrigued by pirate lore, love exploring salt marshes, fancy a birdwatching holiday or just need a stress-free escape where wild horses run free.

1. HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

One of South Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations for a plethora of reasons, Hilton Head Island offers an incredible mix of natural wonder, upscale delights and outdoor activities. You can book whale watching and dolphin spotting boat charters, hit the links, go cycling, hiking and kayaking, play tennis and polo, do some shopping, snap pics in front of the red-and-white-striped Harbour Town Lighthouse and, of course, catch some rays on the beach.

2. DAUFUSKIE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

No doubt you’ve heard of Hilton Head Island and Savannah in the neighboring state of Georgia. Sitting just off the coast between these well-known vacation destinations is a tiny hidden gem called Daufuskie Island with a population of just 500 residents. There aren’t hotels or big-name attractions. Instead, it's a place of peace, quiet and magical natural wonders—bottlenose dolphins bob in the waters and loggerhead turtles nest on the shore.

3. KIAWAH ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

In terms of true vacation destinations, Kiawah Island is a hole-in-one. It has a huge gated luxury beach and golf resort with loads of swish accommodation and amenities like world-class fairways. You don’t need to be a guest to explore the island, which is open to the public. Daytrippers from Charleston often drive over to enjoy the sandy beaches, hiking and biking trails, tours at Heron Park Nature Center and Marsh Island Park.

4. CAPERS ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

A pretty, undeveloped barrier island oasis, Capers Island is the perfect spot for a family vacation. Beaches, maritime uplands and salt marshes provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventure. It’s excellent for birdwatching and wildlife peeping. Be sure to bring your camera to the eye-catching “boneyard beach” where old tree stumps dot the sandy expanse. Bonus: accessibility from Charleston means no long travel days with the kiddos.

5. DEVEAUX BANK, SOUTH CAROLINA

By now you’ve likely gathered that birding is a big deal in South Carolina. Deveaux Bank, a horseshoe-shaped spit of sand at the mouth of the North Edisto River estuary, takes it to the next level as the island actually encompasses a 215-acre sanctuary that’s a protected nesting habitat for many sea and shorebirds. If you’re keen to see eastern brown pelicans and black skimmers, hightail it over to Deveaux Bank.

6. SEABROOK ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Seabrook Island is a downright dreamy place to live or visit. A lot of people choose to reside in this private, oceanfront community. That’s because it’s pretty as a picture with natural beauty galore, nationally recognized birdwatching, two award-winning golf courses, near-empty beaches, a racquet club, an equestrian center and stunning houses we’d happily call home. And the fact that it’s just a few miles from downtown Charleston yet retains a sense of seclusion definitely helps, too.

7. BEAR ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

A nature lover’s dream, Bear Island feels rugged and remote despite sitting just an hour outside Charleston. This undeveloped and pristinely beautiful 12,021-acre Sea Island is part of the ACE Basin estuarine reserve area and managed by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. That translates to ample opportunities for bird watching (it’s among the top-ranked spots for twitchers in the entire state) and wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking and biking.

8. EDISTO ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Where to Stay: “No Saints” Beach House (sleeps 4), Two-Bedroom Unit at Wyndham Ocean Ridge Resort (sleeps 6), Vacation Home Near Beach (sleeps 14)

For a fantastic family-friendly holiday, consider Edisto Island. A laid-back Lowcountry Sea Island not far from Charleston (some people even call it home and commute into the Holy City, just to give you a sense of proximity) that’s approximately 68 square miles and has loads of low-key appeal in the form of sandy beaches and outdoor activities for all ages, including hiking and camping in Edisto Beach State Park.

9. FRIPP ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Fripp Island doesn’t scream "Shiver me timbers" in that really obvious sort of way. But its treasure hunting past is really interesting and the legends live on. Though, these days, the most seaward of the barrier islands feels a lot less pirate and more residential vacation resort with sandy beaches, tennis courts and golf courses. It’s also a designated wildlife sanctuary. Visitors and residents frequently see great blue herons, wood storks and dolphins.

10. PORT ROYAL ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Where to Stay: Anchorage 1770 Inn, Best Western Sea Island Inn, The Beaufort Inn

If you’ve spent some time in South Carolina or are generally familiar with the Palmetto State, Beaufort probably rings a bell. Port Royal Island is the island where the aforementioned seaside city resides. There are beautiful beaches, scenic walking trails, boat tours and tons of opportunities for birdwatching. It's also a popular pick for foodies, specifically seafood lovers who come from far and wide to sample fresh-caught Lowcountry fare.

11. CALLAWASSIE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Callawassie Island may be one of the hundreds of barrier and sea islands, but this 880-acre private slice of paradise just 17 miles from Beaufort sets itself apart from the rest with its coastline, tidal creeks, lagoons, salt marshes and moss-draped trees. There’s also a butterfly garden and a golf course. Callawassie Island is accessible via the half-mile-long causeway that connects it to the mainland as well as by boat.

12. JOHNS ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA

Where to stay: Renovated Cottage (sleeps 6), Bed and Breakfast Porch Rockin’ (sleeps 13), North Beach Pet-Friendly Cottage (sleeps 10)

Sure, bigger isn’t always better. But, then again, sometimes size ups the appeals of a place. Sprawling 738 acres, Johns Island, the largest island in South Carolina and famously a filming location for The Notebook is enchantingly beautiful with miles of wooded trails, farms and lakes. Back to the whole size thing…its most famous feature, the massive ancient Angel Oak stands a whopping 65-feet tall and shades an area of 17,000 square feet.

Why Southerners Vacation in the Same Spot Time After Time

My family spends every 4th of July at the beach. It's the same beach every year—the beach where I grew up vacationing, where my dad grew up spending weekends and summers, where his parents and his grandparents did before that. My family is spread out across the South now—in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas—but come the first week of July, we always gather in the same spot on Florida's Forgotten Coast, just as my dad's family always has.My family is not alone in having a holiday tradition locked to a specific location. Loa...

My family spends every 4th of July at the beach. It's the same beach every year—the beach where I grew up vacationing, where my dad grew up spending weekends and summers, where his parents and his grandparents did before that. My family is spread out across the South now—in Georgia, Alabama, and Texas—but come the first week of July, we always gather in the same spot on Florida's Forgotten Coast, just as my dad's family always has.

My family is not alone in having a holiday tradition locked to a specific location. Loads of families do, whether it's a rental you and your family return to year after year or a home that's been passed down through generations like mine. You see, in the South, we understand the importance of creating core memories associated with a place. We know that new adventures and destinations are fun and all, but there's also something nostalgic and comforting about coming to a home away from home—even on vacation.

In thinking about the why behind this, I started counting my friends who have family traditions and vacations of their own. Trips they take every year. The friends I know will always be away for a week at the end of August or have the same Memorial Day plans. I don't have to ask where they're going, and there's no point in extending an invitation someplace new. After years of friendship, I know what they'll be doing. Their holiday plans have and will always be set.

Every year, my friend Gavin Blue spends a week with her family at Figure 8 Island in North Carolina. They've been visiting from their home in McLean, Virginia, for the last 30 years—at first as a family reunion of sorts with her dad's side and now as an annual trip for her immediate family. "It's the one vacation a year that I truly try to 'unplug' and detach from reality for a week once I get past the gate house and over the drawbridge," she says. "I cannot imagine a summer without our Figure 8 week."

When asked what makes this beach week so special, Gavin tells me how the people, and the houses, and the traditions have changed over time, as their family has expanded and friends and boyfriends have tagged along. But she says, every year, the island is the same.

"Some of my cousins and aunt and uncles from my dad's side have gradually started coming again the same week we go and it's evolved into us renting homes across the street from one another," she adds. "We set up at the beach starting around 10 a.m. and don't typically head back to our homes until 6 p.m. or until high tide gets us, whichever comes first. Even though we are all adults now, we've still got family beach game tournaments and family dinners and cousin-only dinners throughout the week."

She says she can't wait to continue the tradition when she and her husband have children one day.

For my friend Laura Wilson, that place is Seabrook Island in South Carolina. Her family discovered the idyllic beach community in more recent years, but she says it's since become their go-to summer beach destination. They now spend a week there every summer, renting different houses year after year, each she describes as "so cute and so welcoming."

"We love the restaurants and shops at Seabrook, and will usually pepper in a shopping trip or dinner in Charleston, which isn't a far drive," she says. "One of my favorite activities is biking around the beautiful Seabrook roads in the early evening, watching the sunset through the Spanish moss-covered trees."

Last year, Laura's husband joined the trip for the first time. "Seabrook proved that as our family grows, it will continue to be a place we can all visit and make memories together," she explains. "The more the merrier!"

3 local waterways with high levels of reported bacteria

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With heat index values expected to boost feels-like temperatures into the mid-100s this weekend, Lowcountry residents and visitors will no doubt be searching for a way to cool off.And while a dip in one of the area’s many swimming holes or the Charleston harbor may seem like the perfect idea, there are a few local waterways with high levels of bacteria making them an...

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- With heat index values expected to boost feels-like temperatures into the mid-100s this weekend, Lowcountry residents and visitors will no doubt be searching for a way to cool off.

And while a dip in one of the area’s many swimming holes or the Charleston harbor may seem like the perfect idea, there are a few local waterways with high levels of bacteria making them an unsafe option.

Out of 20 tested sites, Charleston Waterkeeper reported high levels of Enterococcus bacteria at 4 sites– Hendricks Park, upper Ellis Creek, and two portions of Shem Creek.

Bacteria results over 104 MPN/100 mL mean water quality is poor and with more rain in the area this week, there are still high results lingering.

“When bacteria levels are high, that means pathogens may also be present. We’re talking about things like Cholera, Tuberculosis, Staph, Vibrio, some really nasty things that can get you sick. So its important that you pay attention to the data,” said Andrew Wunderley, the Executive Director of Charleston Waterkeeper.

Looking to the North, bacteria levels in the Ashley River have come down, returning that spot to GREEN status. Unfortunately, Hendricks Park remains RED despite numbers coming down from last week, meaning swimming and other water-based activities should be avoided in Filbin Creek.

Boaters and swimmers in the Charleston Harbor should have no worries as all points of the Harbor from Melton Demetre Park to Patriots Point are clear.

As expected, things look a little dicier in Mount Pleasant. There’s no trouble in the lower reaches at Shem Creek Park, but the boat landing and residential portions are not a safe option this week. The Cove and Hobcaw Creek both look good to go, though!

Mixed news continues as we head to James Island where Ellis Creek is RED in the upper reaches, but GREEN in the lower reaches. All GREENS for the rest of the island at Sol Legare, Clark Sound, and the Folly River.

Want to launch the boat from somewhere new this weekend? Wappoo Cut Boat Ramp is a great option as it shows no signs of high bacteria levels.

No signs of trouble at the beaches either where Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island are both GREEN according to the latest DHEC data. No data was collected for Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, or Seabrook Island this week.

You can explore the map here.

Seabrook Island neighbors push for short-term rental cap, mayor says no cap needed

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Seabrook Island neighbors are petitioning their leaders to cap the number of short-term rentals, stating there is overcrowding due to what they called over-tourism, but the mayor said the town has no plans to do so.Seabrook Island homeowner Ted Flerlage says over 700 of his neighbors want to cap the number of short-term rentals on the island.“What we’re trying to do is cap, not end the process of short-term rentals, cap at roughly the present numbers, evaluate what happens after that,&...

SEABROOK ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Seabrook Island neighbors are petitioning their leaders to cap the number of short-term rentals, stating there is overcrowding due to what they called over-tourism, but the mayor said the town has no plans to do so.

Seabrook Island homeowner Ted Flerlage says over 700 of his neighbors want to cap the number of short-term rentals on the island.

“What we’re trying to do is cap, not end the process of short-term rentals, cap at roughly the present numbers, evaluate what happens after that,” Flerlage said, “and then, determine whether or not we should lower the number of short-term rentals.”

As of June 19, there are 484 of these properties on the island, which residents said has led to overcrowding on the island’s streets and amenities.

Mayor John Gregg said for this year, data gathered over the past few months suggest otherwise.

“We’re not going to be looking at imposing limitations on the number of short-term rental units,” Gregg said.

Coastal Getaways owner Nancy Buck said more people are starting to call the island home, and good rentals are full for around 40% of the year.

She says all of her clients are property owners who rent to help offset the costs of the amenities, taxes and insurance.

“We’ve also gone from 35% permanent residents to 60% residents in the last two years,” Buck said. “Twenty-five percent of the properties have turned over since 2019.”

Buck also adds the majority of the amenities are mostly used by members and not rental guests.

However, the homeowners want the town’s government to hear them out.

“I’d like him to reconsider,” Flerlage said. “I’d like him to look at the reality and listen to the people who are property owners here, the residents on the island. You know, 700 people is a big number.”

“Let’s wait and see how this year goes,” Buck said. “They instituted the short-term rental ordinance couple of years ago, or actually, last year, so let’s give it a full year to see how it goes.”

Both Buck and the homeowners said they want to work out their differences over the next several months to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Commentary: Declining red knots need our help

Each year, the Palmetto State plays a vital role in one of Mother Nature’s most impressive feats, when countless red knots flock to the S.C. coast as part of their annual 19,000-mile migration. After leaving their South American wintering grounds, these brilliantly colored shorebirds arrive on our shores in early March to feast on clams, mussels and horseshoe-crab eggs before heading to their Arctic nesting grounds in May and early June.Thanks to a growing body of research, our knowledge about these medium-size shorebirds is exp...

Each year, the Palmetto State plays a vital role in one of Mother Nature’s most impressive feats, when countless red knots flock to the S.C. coast as part of their annual 19,000-mile migration. After leaving their South American wintering grounds, these brilliantly colored shorebirds arrive on our shores in early March to feast on clams, mussels and horseshoe-crab eggs before heading to their Arctic nesting grounds in May and early June.

Thanks to a growing body of research, our knowledge about these medium-size shorebirds is expanding all the time. For instance, we know that as many as 41% of the remaining red knot population touches down on Seabrook and Kiawah islands each spring, according to a study published by Pelton, et al., this year in bioRxiv. Research conducted in 2018 by coastal bird biologists at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also found that two-thirds of the red knots that visit our state each year use South Carolina as their final U.S. stopover on their long northward journey.

Statistics like these demonstrate just how significant our state is in the lifecycle of these remarkable animals. Unfortunately, red knot populations have declined a staggering 87% since 2000, and more than 94% since the 1980s in some areas of the Atlantic Coast. In 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the species as federally endangered, pointing to three primary factors contributing to its decline: human and predator disturbance, habitat loss from sea level rise and development, and reduced prey availability. We at Audubon South Carolina, along with other like-minded organizations and individuals, are committed to addressing these threats to give red knots a fighting chance at survival.

To limit human and predator disturbance to shorebirds, we work hard to educate beachgoers about the importance of red knots and other vulnerable bird species. With the help of hundreds of trained volunteers known as Audubon Shorebird Stewards, we post informational signs, mark off sensitive habitat and educate the public on how to share the shore safely with birds. Without this information, people and pets can unwittingly frighten or “flush” coastal birds by chasing them or simply walking too close. As a result, red knots waste precious time and energy fleeing perceived threats rather than eating the food they need to survive their long migration.

To address habitat loss from rising seas and development, it’s important to protect the last remaining slivers of undeveloped coast that red knots need to survive. In Charleston County, this includes places such as Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and Crab Bank and Deveaux Bank seabird sanctuaries, and even residential communities such as Seabrook Island’s north beach.

Finally, growing scientific evidence points to lack of prey species availability as perhaps the greatest threat to red knot survival. Although red knots eat many different types of marine invertebrates, research shows they prefer horseshoe-crab eggs, probably because they are two to three times more nutrient-dense than other food sources.

It might surprise some to learn that the greatest competition for this critical red knot food source is the U.S. biomedical industry, which relies on a unique component in horseshoe crab blood to test the purity of medicines and equipment. Since the start of the pandemic, horseshoe crab harvesting has increased sharply to keep pace with soaring demand, creating serious concerns for both horseshoe crab and red knot populations. In addition to diminishing a most critical food source, the process of harvesting crabs itself can disturb red knot foraging.

To fully understand and address the problem, Audubon South Carolina supports greater transparency among all public and private parties involved in horseshoe crab harvesting. For instance, having access to data that show how many horseshoe crabs are collected and from where, as well as horseshoe crab mortality rates and egg density levels in the sand, can identify a definitive path toward helping the red knot population recover. We also support the federal Fish and Wildlife Service’s full list of proposed critical habitat areas for red knot, which would create greater protections for the species.

The challenges that red knots and other coastal birds face are immense but not insurmountable. The fate of this amazing species, and so many others, is in all our hands. Please do your part by sharing the beach with shorebirds, advocating for habitat protection and encouraging your elected officials to support greater transparency in horseshoe crab harvesting data.

Nolan Schillerstrom is Audubon South Carolina’s coastal program manager.

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