Dolphins have long been humans’ favorite creatures of the sea. Curious, sociable, linguistic, and playful – perhaps it’s because of their friendly, dog-like personalities! On the other hand, it could also be due to our similarities. For marine creatures, dolphins share vast biological commonalities with us as mammals. Either way, there’s something undeniably magical about the sight of dorsal fins unexpectedly breaking the surface of deep ocean waves in perfectly synchronized formation. They capture our fascination just as much as our delight.
When traveling to Myrtle Beach, dolphin encounters are a must. Yet, how much do you actually know about them? Whether you’re just curious about these fun-loving animals or you want to learn how to find and see them, read on for a guide to the Myrtle Beach dolphins!
There Are Dolphins in Myrtle Beach?
Yes, of course! While there are 49 species of dolphins in the world, the bottlenose dolphin is the most common type you’ll see in Myrtle Beach. The bottlenose dolphin has a short, thick snout, dark gray coloring near the dorsal fin, and light gray coloring that turns white near the belly. They’re also typically on the smaller side for dolphin species, measuring on average 8 feet long and around 500 lbs.
What’s the Best Time of Year to See Myrtle Beach Dolphins?
Atlantic dolphins prefer temperate and tropical waters, both offshore and coastal, from southern Canada to Argentina. They can be found in the open ocean, bays, gulfs, estuaries, and even rivers. However, fluctuations in water temperature and food resources drive many dolphins to migrate throughout the year.
The dolphins of the American Atlantic coast are more likely to migrate south toward the Carolinas for the winter. Thus, the best time of year to see Myrtle Beach dolphins is late fall, from October to December. Of course, those same dolphins that migrate south for the winter will travel back up north in time for the warmer months. For that reason, the springtime months of March and April are also good for dolphin spotting. That said, some dolphins do not migrate at all, so it’s not impossible to see them any time of year.
Where Can You Find the Dolphins?
Bottlenose dolphins typically inhabit both offshore (20 or more miles from land) and coastal (5 miles from shore) waters. This means you have a chance to see the coastal variety of bottlenose dolphins even from the beach!
The best places to catch glimpses of them are marinas and piers, such as the Cherry Grove Pier, where dolphins make easy dinner of the human fishers’ bycatch. You’re also within range to see them directly from the white sands. However, don’t worry too much about them approaching the swimming shallows as they prefer depths of around 10 feet at minimum.
If you are not beholden to dry land, the best places to find dolphins are, naturally, wherever they feed. An experienced dolphin sightseeing tour guide will know exactly where to find these feeding zones. For instance, according to Voyager Deep Sea Fishing & Dolphin Cruises, you’re almost guaranteed to find dolphins among the shrimp boats. Hungry dolphins can eat up to 50 lbs of fish, squid, shellfish and crustaceans per day. These intelligent animals have learned to make light work of satisfying their caloric demand by following the human fishing boats!
How Do You See Them Up-Close?
Our coastal Carolina town is full of opportunities to see these beauties, from dolphin sightseeing tours to Myrtle Beach boat rides. If you’re lucky, you might just stumble upon a pod while out and about on a watersports adventure. For example, you might see them in the rivers on a kayaking eco-tour with J&L Kayaks or the Nature & Wildlife River Boat Tour with Waccamaw River Tours. On river tours like these, you could also see ospreys, alligators, turtles, herons, and many more fascinating coastal species. You’re also likely to encounter dolphins on a parasailing adventure or jet ski rental with Express Watersports.
However, the most popular way to get some up-close and personal time with the dolphins is to hop on one of the Myrtle Beach boat rides geared specifically for dolphin watching. In addition to offering watersports rentals, Express Watersports hosts the Dolphin Watch & Ocean Sightseeing Cruise. This 1.5-hour tour covers Murrells Inlet to the Atlantic Ocean and entertains you with historical and ecological narration from their marine science specialists.
The Sea Thunder Dolphin Cruise is another fantastic option. Myrtle Beach Watersports welcomes you aboard the Sea Screamer & Sea Thunder Dolphin Cruise, a safe and affordable tour lasting 1.5 to 2 hours. You’ll take a relaxing ride along the Intracoastal Waterway and then speed up in the open ocean. After seeing the dolphins, the Sea Thunder dolphin cruise will conclude with a thrilling zoom along the scenic Myrtle Beach coastline.
There are a great number of reasons to love Myrtle Beach: the diverse family-friendly activities, the Lowcountry seafood restaurants, the amusement parks, and the beach, of course. However, the natural environment and wildlife play perhaps the most significant role in making coastal South Carolina awe-inspiring and exciting.
People come from all over the country to see the Myrtle Beach dolphins, learn more about their distinctive behaviors, and watch them feed and play in their native habitat. Next time you’re planning a beach trip, make time to befriend a pod of these amazing creatures on a dolphin sightseeing tour or any of the Myrtle Beach boat rides!
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