by Chip Biernbaum, Ph.D.
Major Collecting Areas
- Southwest end of Folly Beach (where the County Park is).
- Folly Beach public oyster grounds (to left just as you go over the bridge to Folly Beach; walk under bridge to the oyster bed).
- Folly Beach floating docks. Folly Marina is the last right-hand turn before reaching bridge going into Folly Beach.
- Folly Beach County Park (however, in Spring 2004, Folly Marina removed all floating docks from the water, hopefully temporarily). Two floating docks are also found at the public boat landing to the right of the bridge going into Folly Beach.
- At Oak Island Creek Bridge by Anchorline Restaurant on Folly Road.
- Stono Marina (go down Maybank Highway, cross the Stono River, marina on the left).
- At Breach Inlet, Sullivan’s Island side, on the beach & over some rocky jetties.
- The small freshwater extensions of a lake that one passes by on Harbor View Road.
- Boring Cliona in oyster shells can be found at the low intertidal at the Folly Beach public oyster grounds and under the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant. It does not occur on the oyster bed next to Grice.
- Microciona prolifera, Halichondria bowerbanki, and other species are commonly washed up on Folly Beach (southwest end). (Microciona is excellent for a reaggregation experiment.)
- Sponges (especially Microciona and Halichondria) are sometimes found on floating docks at Folly Marina or the Folly Beach public boat landing.
- A very nice orange sponge (Hymeniacidon heliophila) is common under the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant. Being intertidal, it is very tolerant of aquarium conditions.
- Abundant Eudendrium colonies are on floating docks at Folly Beach virtually all year.
- Occasionally, pinnate colonies (Halocordyle, Sertularia, Plumularia) occur on floating docks at Folly Beach.
- Bougainvillia occurs on the floating docks at Folly Beach.
- Tubularia crocea is abundant during cooler months (almost the entire academic year) on Folly Beach floating docks. (It is excellent for gonophore analysis & actinula larvae.)
- Obelia is abundant except in mid-winter on the Folly Beach groins. I have also found it beneath the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant. (It readily releases abundant medusae overnight and into the next day. Collect it the day before you need it; polyps deteriorate after 24 hours.)
- The most common scyphomedusa washed up at Folly Beach is Stomolophus meleagris, a rhizostome. Also found are Cyanea capillata, Chrysaora quinquecirrha, and Aurelia aurita.
- Living medusae can sometimes be found in the tide pools at Breach Inlet. To collect small medusae (as well as ctenophores), hold a dip net in the water at a flooding or ebbing tide at the end of a floating dock at Folly Beach. Regardless of season, if you do it for 45 minutes or so (emptying the net periodically), you’ll be successful.
- Anemones can be collected on the jetties and groins at Folly (primarily the greenish-brown Bunodosoma cavernata). Anemones can also be found (when lucky) washed up “alone” on Folly Beach (e.g., the “sea onion”, Paranthus rapiformis), attached to larger hermit-occupied shells on the beach, or attached to large clumps of the bryozoan Alcyonidium on the beach. (Calliactis tricolor, which is commonly found on hermits and Alcyonidium that has purplish highlights on a cream & brown-highlighted body has great acontia that it readily extrudes when banged around a bit.) Small anemones are common among the mussels and barnacles attached to the groins at Folly Beach and in the biota found on floating docks. Put clumps of this material in an aerated dish and the anemones will crawl off the clumps onto the dish bottom. (They’re transparent, thus great for seeing septa through the body wall.)
- Living, white coral colonies (Astrangia danae) are sometimes found on hard debris washed up at Folly Beach.
- Leptogorgia virgulata is washed up on Folly Beach (southwest end). It can also be found (at low tide) under the bridge next to the Anchorline Restaurant and on the floating docks at Folly Beach (which is the best place to look).
- Other gorgonians (some with fused spicules as a core instead of gorgonin) are commonly washed up on Folly Beach.
- An orange octocoral that appears to grow over a branching sponge is sometimes found washed up on Folly Beach.
- The “sea pansy,” Renilla reniformis, is common on Folly Beach. Also look along the margins of tide pools at any beach. (When stroked in the dark, they will bioluminesce.)
- Mnemiopsis mccradyi washes up on Folly Beach (it will survive if gently handled) during warmer months. One can also get it in the boat slip at Fort Johnson and using a net during flooding or ebbing tides at the Folly Beach floating docks (hold a large dip net in the water at the end of the floating docks, functioning as a plankton net). (Keep in mind that young Mnemiopsis will look like Pleurobrachia, complete with a pair of long tentacles.)
- Beroe ovata is also found on occasion.
- Adult turbellarians are rarely found. However, on occasion large specimens of the barnacle-eating Stylochus are encountered in the mass of biota on Folly Beach floating docks or on the Folly Beach groins.
- Egg cases of a turbellarian species are sometimes found on the egg case strings of Busycon washed up on Folly Beach. They look like brown dots. Individuals within these egg cases hatch as juveniles, not larvae.
- Freshwater planarians are common in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road.
- Occasionally, the large, cream and brown, terrestrial Bipalium is encountered in gardens. It eats earthworms.
- Fluke larvae can best be gotten from living Ilyanassa obsoleta mud snails on the mud flats behind Grice (or anywhere else). Incidence of infection increases as habitat depth of the snails decreases (a behavior caused by the infecting fluke). Because the next intermediate host consists of intertidal crustaceans, the fluke larvae inducing Ilyanassa to move into shallower water decreases the distance cercariae need to swim to reach the next host.
- Fluke metacerariae are commonly seen in Palaemonetes. They look like dark dots in the abdominal muscle tissue (they are hyperparasitized by a sporozoan, whose black spores account for the color).
- Fluke metacercariae are commonly seen on the internal organs of Callinectes. It’s called pepper disease since they look like black dots (again, they are hyperparasitized by sporozoans). (The primary host is the raccoon.)
- A small, green nemertean can be found under mussels and barnacles attached to the groins at Folly Beach and on floating docks. They tend to form large masses of individuals inside empty mussel shells when the tide goes out. The best way to get them is to collect large masses of groin or floating-dock epibiota and put them into a large aerated tray or dish. Nemerteans will crawl out of the material overnight.
- Busycon is common at Folly Beach, typically burrowed just under the beach surface (look for slightly raised, triangular mounds, with the siphonal canal of the shell barely exposed at the narrow end). Their egg capsule strings are also common during warmer months. Busycon can also be purchased (good dissection specimens if you don’t have enough) at the Bachman Seafood Store on Sol Legare Road. The best time to get Busycon is during the spring and summer. They are more difficult to find in late summer through fall and winter.
- Polinices duplicatus is common on Folly Beach, typically found by looking for mole-like, mounded tunnels in the sand. Also look around margins of tidepools at the beach. Their egg-case collars can be common on the beach during much of the year (a very good source of veligers).
- Crepidula is common on hermit crab-occupied shells at Folly Beach. (Great for showing direction of water flow through the mantle cavity using dye — put them on their “backs.”)
- Littorina irrorata is abundant on the Spartina outside of Grice.
- Boonea (old Odostomia) is abundant on the oysters at the Folly Beach public oyster grounds. They are tiny (~1-2mm) and light brown; they suck blood from the mantle edges of the oysters (and lack a radula).
- Ilyanassa obsolete is abundant on the mud flats beside Grice. Their egg cases are common on debris (especially bare gorgonin branches and Polinices egg-case collars) on Folly Beach (they are my favorite source of living veligers -- the larvae are larger than those of Polinices).
- Urosalpinx cinerea and its egg cases can be abundant on the Folly Beach public oyster grounds, especially at low intertidal. They can also be common under the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant. Our oyster ground at Fort Johnson is lousy for associated sponges or gastropods.
- An elongated, ovulid snail (Simnialena uniplicata) is common on living Leptogorgia along with its dark-highlighted, jellied egg masses.
- Aeolid nudibranchs and their coiled, jellied egg masses can be abundant on Eudendrium found on Folly Beach floating docks. (The egg masses will easily release tiny, shelled veligers if kept in an aerated dish.)
- A large, yellow, dorid nudibranch (Doriopsilla pharpa) can sometimes be found (sometimes with its coiled, yellow, jellied egg mass) on oyster shells infected with Cliona at the Folly Beach public oyster grounds.
- A small, gray, dorid nudibranch (Doridella obscura) and its circularly-coiled, jellied, egg masses are abundant on the gray bryozoan, Alcyonidium, washed up on Folly Beach. Due to its superb cryptic coloration, it is very easily overlooked. (It is also a good source of small nudibranch veligers.)
- Abundant freshwater snails can be found in the freshwater habitats alongside Harbor View Road. (When small ones are viewed under the dissecting scope with transmitted light, you can see the air bubble inside the mantle cavity [these are almost all pulmonates].)
- The intertidal pulmonate Melampus bidentatus (along with another gastropod species) is abundant under boards and similar debris washed up high on the marsh next to Grice.
- Terrestrial snails and slugs can occasionally be found under boards and other materials where there are moist leaves or soil.
- Good oysters are found on the oyster bed at Fort Johnson. Many contain Pinnotheres ostreum.
- Brachiodontes exustus is a common small mussel that attaches to hard surfaces intertidally. It is common on Folly Beach groins and on the rocks near the Grice oyster bed.
- Geukensia (old Modiolus) demissa is common in the muddy, vegetated substrate just behind the rocks above the oyster bed at Fort Johnson — the tips of their valves will be visible at the sediment surface. (They’re ideal for finding the crystalline style, much better than using oysters. Being filibranchs, they’re also my bivalve of choice for making wet-mounts of gill tissue to show cilia.)
- The winged oyster, Pteria colymbus, is commonly found on Leptogorgia colonies washed up at Folly Beach.
- Mercenaria is found in the upper intertidal mud at the Folly Beach public oyster grounds.
- Donax is found in the sand at Folly Beach -- sieving the sand will reveal specimens. However, they aren’t as abundant as I’ve seen elsewhere.
- Small venerid clams (ca. 1-2 cm. in size) can be found buried in patches at Folly Beach. It’s best to look for “peck holes” where the birds have been working.
- A variety of small, living bivalves commonly wash up on Folly Beach.
- Boring bivalves are not uncommon in old wood washed up on Folly Beach.
- Small bivalves will be found living in the “stuff’ at the base of hydroid colonies and ascidians on the floating docks at Folly Beach.
- Nereis succinea is abundant in many shallow habitats, including oyster beds. My best source for class is in the “stuff” at the base of the ascidians and hydroids growing on the floating docks at Folly Beach (tear the tunicates apart from each other and a variety of polychaetes can be found). Epitokes of N. succinea will be found swarming in large numbers at the end of the spring semester in the Fort Johnson boat slip. (They’re a great source of sperm and eggs for producing trochophore larvae.)
- Amphitrite ornata is common in the “stuff” at the base of the ascidians and hydroids on Folly Beach floating docks, especially between the solitary tunicates and inside empty shells and barnacles.
- Diopatra cuprea is common in the mud flats (you can see the tubes) behind Grice, but my experience has been that many, if not most, of these tubes are empty. Occupied tubes are commonly washed up at the southwest end of Folly Beach. (These animals readily construct their tubes during lab when given debris from their torn-up old tube.)
- If hydroids and similar debris washed up on Folly Beach or found at Folly Beach floating docks is “swished” in a bucket of water, a beautiful small syllid, Proceraea fasciata, is commonly found. I have also found other syllids in large numbers on and in the orange sponges under the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant.
- Polynoid scaleworms are common in hermit-occupied shells at Folly Beach.
- I have commonly found a dark green phyllodocid (Phyllodoce fragilis) living in the attached invertebrate community of mussels and barnacles on the groins at Folly Beach.
- Sabellaria floridensis in their concreted sand-grain tubes are very common on old shells, dead gorgonin, etc. that wash up at Folly Beach. They are also common on such substrates intertidally at Folly Beach.
- The sabellid Sabella melanostigma in its muddy tubes can be found on debris washed up at Folly Beach as well as in the “stuff” at the base of ascidians and hydroids on Folly Beach floating docks.
- The serpulid Hydroides dianthus, in its calcareous tubes, is common on shells washed up on Folly Beach.
- Chaetopterus variopedatus is common here and their tubes are frequently found washed up on Folly Beach. I suspect that one can go after living specimens intertidally somewhere, but I haven’t tried and am not sure where I would go to look.
- A few polychaete species build thin, sand-grained tubes that project vertically out of intertidal sand. One can find them some distance around the southwestern end of Folly Beach, where the sand becomes a bit muddier, as well as in the beach on the Sullivan’s Island side of Breach Inlet.
- The tiny spionid Polydora websteri is very common as a surface borer in oyster shells and similar substrates. Place almost any weathered, low intertidal or subtidal shells under a scope and the paired “waving’ palps of many worms can be seen projecting from the shell surface.
- Cistenides gouldii (“ice-cream-cone worm’) commonly washes up on Folly Beach inside its fragile, cone-shaped, sandy tube.
- Owenia fusiformis commonly washes up on Folly Beach within its slender tubes, which are made of sand and tiny shell debris tightly joined together almost like shingles.
- Craig Plante is a good person to talk to for sites that may have burrowing polychaetes, e.g., Arenicola.
- A transparent leech is rarely found in debris washed up on Folly Beach.
- Leeches are commonly encountered in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road.
- A small, undescribed trilobite species is occasionally found crawling under the floating docks at Folly Beach (just want to make sure you’re paying attention!).
- Although Limulus is common around here and their exuviae are commonly found on the beach, I have never seen beach-front mating occurring, as is so common at other areas along the coast. If you want living specimens, you really have to trawl; I have gotten them most consistently on the Mt. Pleasant side (Rebellion Reach) of Charleston Harbor.
- Small pycnogonids can be found on Obelia and, to a lesser extent, on other hydroids you can find.
- Our large, dark pycnogonid (Anoplodactylus lentus) can be found (sometimes abundantly) on Eudendrium collected at Folly Beach floating docks, especially during warmer times of the year.
- Freshwater mites are not uncommon in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road.
- I have collected anostracans and conchostracans at a temporary pond at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge next to Lake Marion. They have also been found in temporary ponds in Francis Marion National Forest. Their occurrence is sporadic.
- Cladocerans are common in the freshwater habitats next to Harbor View Road.
- Ostracods are abundant in the freshwater habitats next to Harbor View Road.
- Copepods are common in the intertidal mud next to Grice.
- For abundant cyclopoid copepods of several species, I find that maceration of large, and especially moribund, sponges provides large numbers.
- One can collect large numbers of barnacles from the groins at Folly Beach as well as on the rocks and oysters on the rocks behind Grice (Chthamalus fragilis). (They feed well and will release brooded nauplii overnight.) Although this species is also found on Spartina, the vegetation floats in dishes, making it hard for students to examine them. Good specimens of Balanus eburneus can be found on the shells occupied by hermit crabs at Folly Beach.
- Colonies of Leptogorgia commonly have an attached barnacle (Conopea galeata) attached to a branch. This barnacle species is only found on this gorgonian; except for a small opening, it becomes covered by coenenchyme.
- Occasionally, the small stalked barnacle Octolasmis muelleri is found on the gills of Callinectes or other crabs.
- The isopod Edotea triloba can sometimes be found in debris washed up at Folly Beach.
- Freshwater isopods (Caecidotea [=old Asellus] and Lirceus) can be found in aquatic habitats in Francis Marion National Forest. Lirceus is more common during the winter.
- Enormous numbers of a large, Idotea-like valviferan are found in the attached biota on the floating docks at Stono Marina, especially those docks closest to the center of the river. (They are excellent for demonstrating marsupial brooding of embryos.)
- A large, brown idotead isopod (Cleantis planicauda) can be found living inside old Spartina stalks on live bottom; it rarely washes up with debris at Folly Beach (break open dead Spartina stalks).
- Sphaeroma can be found in large numbers in the biota on the groins at Folly Beach. They will congregate inside empty mussel and barnacle shells when the tide goes out.
- Ligia exotica is common running around on jetties and groins in the upper intertidal.
- Small, intertidal isopods can be found under boards and other washed-up debris on the marsh next to Grice.
- Wooden groins at Folly Beach have been eaten away by the boring “gribble,” Limnoria lignorum. Tearing apart some of the “rotten wood” will reveal them.
- Bopyrid isopods are commonly found on Palaemonetes.
- Terrestrial isopods can be found under moist debris at Fort Johnson.
- The best amphipod I’ve found to use in class is Hyalella azteca, found in abundance in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road. They reproduce all year (although primarily in the summer); therefore, amplexing pairs and brooded embryos can always be found. Also, they are great to use for examining such things as the beating heart and lacunar blood flow through the appendages.
- Amphipods, both gammarids and caprellids, are common in the material found growing on the floating docks at Folly Beach and the Stono Marina.
- Amphipods are common in debris washed up at Folly Beach. “Swishing” such material in buckets of water typically yields many specimens (Bugula is especially loaded with them).
- Amphipods can be found among the green algae growing on rocks in the small rock-bound pool just above the oyster bed behind Grice.
- Haustoriid amphipods can be easily sieved from the sand near the southwest end of Folly Beach. I suspect it’s best to look for them on stable beaches away from the end of the island. They stratify between the high and low tide marks, frequently 2-3 species having different distributions at the same location.
- Talitrids are very common under the wrack at the high tide mark next to Grice.
- Palaemonetes is very common in shallow near-marsh habitats. A salt-water pond south of the powder magazine (at the end of a path that goes past a fenced DNR storage area) is a good collecting site. They are commonly infected with either bopyrids or fluke metacercariae (hyperparasitized by a sporozoan, the spores of which give the metacercariae their black color).
- Alpheus heterochaelis (“snapping shrimp”) can be found living in muddy burrows underneath oyster-bed shells, including behind Grice.
- Callianassa major can be “yabby-slurped” with a piston-like device, along with its symbiotic pinnotherid crab (Pinnixa cristata), from its low-intertidal burrows at Folly Beach.
- I’ve been told that Upogebia affinis is common in the mud beneath the oyster bed next to Grice. I haven’t looked for them.
- Small crayfish are common in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road.
- Fiddlers and xanthid “mud crabs” are all over the place in marshes around here, including behind Grice.
- Xanthids are abundant under clumps of oysters as well as in the biota found on floating docks.
- Sesarma crabs are common in marsh burrows and (for S. cinereum, a very flat crab) under boards and similar debris washed above the mid-tide level on marshes, including behind Grice.
- Pinnotheres ostreum can be found commonly in the oysters next to Grice.
- Ocypode quadrata is common in the high intertidal beach and dune areas at Folly Beach. They would be a challenge to catch!
- Hermit crabs are best collected at Folly Beach, although we do have them at Fort Johnson as well. Larger specimens tend to be Clibanarius vittatus (striped legs and slender chelipeds) and smaller ones Pagurus spp. (non-striped legs and wide chelipeds).
- Emerita talpoida is common at Folly Beach, but not abundant. To get specimens, the best thing to do is to simply sieve sand at the lower intertidal.
- Rarely, Lepidopa or Albunea wash up at Folly Beach.
- Centipedes and millipedes can be collected under boards and other objects around Grice.
- The intertidal, dark gray collembolan Anurida maritima can be found abundantly on intertidal rocks (next to Grice and jetties at Folly Beach) and in floating groups next to such rocks.
- A good source for all kinds of aquatic insects (beetles, hemipterans, dipteran larvae, dragonfly&damselfly naiads, etc.) is the freshwater habitat next to Harbor View Road.
- Termite colonies can be found in rotten logs along the forest road near the boat licensing building near the gate at Fort Johnson.
- There’s a great colony of very large-bodied ants found under a large piece of plywood on the far edge of the open lot (used for outboard-boat storage) next to the powder magazine (is near the gravel road leading to the DNR storage area). They have great larvae and pupae.
- Now, where can one find cockroaches?! Hmmmmmmm . . . .
- My favorite bryozoan is Bugula neritina, commonly washed up at Folly Beach. It is also found in profusion on any floating dock. It shows “brown-body” formation very well, but the most common species here, unlike most others of its genus, lacks avicularia (we have a prepared slide of a Bugula species that has avicularia). If kept overnight in an aerated dish, it will release dark, oval larvae from ovicells in the morning. These will readily attach in about 2 hours and form ancestrulae virtually overnight.
- Alcyonidium hauffi (gray with thick branches) also washes up at Folly Beach. Like Bugula, it has great lophophores. Usually present on the colonies are the gray dorid nudibranch Doridella obscura, with its coiled egg masses.
- Amathia colonies with elongated, vase-like zoecia are commonly washed up on Folly Beach.
- Soft, dark-brown, branched, “squishy” colonies of Anguinella palmata wash up in abundance on Folly Beach. They also are commonly found attached to the lower surfaces of groins. (They’re lousy as specimens as far as seeing lophophores or other structures is concerned.)
- Encrusting bryozoan colonies are frequently found on old shells, hermit crab-occupied shells, and bare gorgonin that wash up on Folly Beach. Usually orange colonies are alive and white ones dead.
- Although it has been several years since I’ve looked for it, I have found large, lacy colonies of the foliose Thalamoporella floridana(?) in the pipe leading from what I call Miss Mason’s Pond (the pond next to Mason School on Lockwood Blvd.) to the harbor. The pipe, which goes under Lockwood Blvd, is best sampled from the harbor side.
- At certain times of the year, large gelatinous Pectinatella colonies are found on submerged branches, etc. in Lake Marion.
- Brown Plumatella (?) colonies can be commonly encountered growing on stalks of living emergent plants and submerged sticks in the freshwater habitats along Harbor View Road. (They are excellent for showing statoblasts.)
- Entoproct colonies are commonly encountered growing on the branches of Eudendrium hydroid colonies.
- During the past few years, large numbers of the primitive asteroid Luidia clathrata have washed up on beaches, including Folly Beach. (They are great for showing the paxillae and pointed tube feet of burrowing sea stars.
- Unfortunately, other sea stars are rarely washed up on our beaches. On occasion, though, they can be found at Folly Beach (Asterias, Echinaster, Astropecten primarily).
- Ophiuroids (primarily Ophiothrix angulata) can sometimes be found hidden in the debris that washes up at Folly Beach. They can also be found in small numbers in the encrusting biota on floating docks.
- Although Arbacia punctulata is found around here, I’ve never seen it washed up on a beach. However, Craig has reported finding them in large tide pools at Breach Inlet.
- Mellita quinquiesperforata is abundant around here, but only occasionally will a living specimen be found at Folly Beach. Usually they are beneath the sand, looking like a buried disk with five holes in the sand where the lunules are located. They seem to wash up far more abundantly on the County Park beach at the southern end of Kiawah Island.
- Dark Thyone (now Sclerodactyla) briareus is occasionally washed up at Folly Beach. (It readily eviscerates. I have found that they will have significant regeneration of eviscerated organs within a month.)
- A small (ca. 1-3 cm), white holothuroid is commonly found washed up on Folly Beach. Look for them in masses of detritus and flocculent particles in tide pools at Folly.
- Large numbers of the acorn worm Balanoglossus aurantiacus are found in the muddy sand on the Sullivan’s Island side of Breach Inlet. Look for coiled, sandy, fecal castings at the opening to its burrow.
- Molgula manhattensis and very large Styela plicata are abundant on the floating docks at Folly Beach. Typically, Styela is most abundant at Folly Beach, while Molgula is best found on the floating docks at the Stono Marina and the City Marina on Lockwood Boulevard. (Styela has wonderful pharyngeal walls for showing cilia and pores.)
- Purple or white masses of Amaroucium wash up commonly on Folly Beach. If macerated and squeezed, many large tadpole larvae are released along with the individuals of the colony that were embedded in the wax-like tunic (colonial species brood; solitary species don’t).
- A white, encrusting, colonial ascidian (Didemnum duplicatum) is commonly washed up on Folly Beach. I have also seen it abundantly under the bridge next to Anchorline Restaurant along Folly Road.
- A purple colonial species (Eudistoma hepaticum) is commonly found growing on the floating docks at Folly Beach, along with some other colonial species. One colonial species commonly grows on the outside of the solitary species Styela plicata.
- Perophora viridis, a green, colonial, stoloniferous species (individuals of the colony are pinhead-size), is occasionally found growing on debris washed up at Folly Beach. It can be abundant on hydroid colonies on Folly Beach floating docks. (The zooids are transparent and, under the scope, show the internal anatomy quite well.)