What to bring:
- Weather-appropriate clothing. It is always much cooler on the water, so it is good to wear warmer clothing than you normally wear.
- If there is a chance of rain, please bring rain coats and umbrellas.
- Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a little wet or sandy.
- Cameras are welcome.
- Cost per Student
Charleston Field Trips and School Programs – Barrier Island Ecology Adventure
Barrier Island Eco-Tours offers excellent standards-based school programs and activities for all grade levels. Their staff’s expertise and flexibility to meet the needs of teachers and students is top-notch. Educating people about marine ecology, with passion and relevance, is clearly the norm.” — Edward H. Falco, Environmental Education Associate, SC Department of Education
Scientific process and inquiry skills are promoted and reinforced throughout the field trip as students learn about organisms, habitats, communities, and ecosystems, as well as the environmental and geological factors that influence them.
The first part of our South Carolina field trips is spent on the boat exploring the tidal creeks of the salt marsh. Depending on the grade level of the group, different topics are discussed, including: spartina grass and its role, plant/animal species identification, adaptations, oyster bed communities, species diversity, marsh hammock ecology, geology of the salt marsh, and the importance of the salt marsh to humans and the Atlantic Ocean.
The students are able to experience and learn about marine life as their knowledgeable and well-versed naturalist pulls crab and habitat traps. The specimens caught are put into an aquarium and discussed by your naturalist.
“Thank you for all you did to make this trip so memorable for our 3rd graders. They all said it was the best field trip ever!” – Third grade teacher, Columbia, SC
The second part of the trip is spent on the beach at Capers Island State Heritage Preserve. With over 2,000 acres, Capers Island is a pristine barrier island bought by South Carolina in 1975 for the purpose of preserving it in its natural state.
On Capers Island, there is a diversity of shells, and our guides have fascinating facts about the lives of the animals which made them. Other topics such as sediments, barrier island formation, sand dune function, loggerhead sea turtles, erosion and deposition, beach ecology, and the maritime forest can be discussed. Capers Island is an excellent example of erosion and deposition. Most of the island has been eroding for many years, and the presence of dead trees along the tide line provides a stark visual image of the process we call erosion. Another illustration the island offers is that of deposition, as evidenced by the significant formation of sand dunes over the salt marsh at the southern end.
Groups also have the option to hike a mile-long trail that winds its way through the island before opening onto “bone-yard beach.” Along the trail, you pass through different habitats including salt marsh, a fresh water pond, a large brackish water impoundment, the maritime forest, and an extensive dune field. These interior ponds allow for plant and animal diversity along the trail and are a home to several shy alligators. Along this path, our staff discuss topics including alligators, bird life/identification, uses of the maritime forest by humans, plant identification, and adaptations.
If you are looking for an educational field trip your students will never forget, you must give Barrier Island Eco Tours a call. Our school programs are aligned with the South Carolina Curriculum Science Standard.
“I’ve been to the beach before but never learned anything about how it was made or why it’s there. Thank you for teaching me and my classmates about how the island stops hurricanes from hitting the mainland and the animals that live on the islands. My favorite part was seeing the animals such as blue crabs, alligators and oysters in their natural habitats.” – Brianna, 4th grade
Most school groups choose for us to provide their lunch or dinner on Capers Island. The beachside cookout adds to the experience for the student and makes it easy for the planner. A hot dog and hamburger is grilled for each person.
$7 per person includes a hamburger and a hot dog, fruit snacks, and water.
We are able to accommodate groups of 150 plus by dividing the group up into smaller groups and sometimes using multiple boats for transportation to Capers Island. We use pre-trip and post-trip dock activities and also Fort Moultrie as a station, so very little down time is experienced.
Our field trips usually last from 3.5 to 6 hours depending on your group size and how we decide to split you up. Normally we are able to tailor the trip to fit into your time frame.
The Isle of Palms Marina now charges $40 per bus for parking at the marina. They also charge $10 per vehicle. If driving a personal vehicle you will follow the directions on the daily parking sign and you will need your credit card to make the payment by text. Please let us know how many buses you will be bringing and we will include the $40 per bus on your invoice. You are welcome to unload the students and take the bus out of the marina complex and not be charged.
Store and Gift Shop
The Isle of Palms Marina does have a general store and gift shop and our Barrier Island Eco Tour t-shirts are available for students to purchase as a souvenir.
S.C. Science Standards per grade level:
Download PDFs on topics and species we cover on our field trip:
- Sand and Sea – Teachings from the Southeastern Shoreline
- Notes on Bottlenose Dolphins
- Investigating the Causes of Tides
- Resources for Teachers and Students
Visit these links to fun and educational websites related to topics covered on the trip: