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“S” is for Sea Islands

“S” is for Sea Islands. Scattered along the state’s approximately 185 miles of coastline, South Carolina’s Sea Islands shelter the mainland from storms and erosion. The islands differ considerably in formation, size, and land use. There are two distinct types of islands: active barriers and erosion remnants. Active barrier islands (e.g. Hunting and Fripp Islands) developed as currents and storms moved sand into beach ridges and dunes, held in place by persistent vegetation. Erosion remnant islands (e.g. Hilton Head) were once part of the mainland, separated during the Pleistocene epoch. But this ever-changing string of islands, battered by ocean tides as well as man’s influences, is more than just a physical buffer. The islands’ borders also protect a way of life, a unique cultural identity nurtured by the nearby warm Gulf Stream water that provided the climate that has defined life on the Sea Islands.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.