Meet Alabaster, the Albino Alligator

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Alabaster” a seven and-a-half foot long 92 pound Albino American Alligator swims in his tank at the Blackwater Swamp Exhibit in the South Carolina Aquarium.

Did you know that alligators are a native predator species in the South Carolina Lowcountry? And that you can adopt Alabaster the Albino American Alligator?

A few more Fun Facts:  There are only two species of alligator in the world – the American alligator and the Chinese alligator American alligators have a lifespan of 35-50 years, and have been known to live up to 80 years in captivity Alligators can stay underwater for 45-60 minutes Alligators will go dormant (not a true hibernation) when the weather gets cold 80 – 100 teeth may be in the mouth of the alligator.  When teeth wear down, new teeth grow in.  An alligator may go through 2,000 – 3,000 teeth in a lifetime

South Carolina Aquarium’s River Otters

 (Kathryn Wagner)

A North American River Otter swims through the sunlight in the Mountain Forest exhibit at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, South Carolina.

Fun Facts About the North American River OtterThey can swim up to 12 mph and can run 18 mph. Otters swimming beneath ice for long periods of time are known to use trapped air bubbles to continue to get oxygen. River otters close their nostrils and ears while underwater, and can hold their breath for about 4 minutes. The maximum known time for an otter to hold its breath is 8 minutes. Otters view their environment with a variety of senses, but their whiskers are very sensitive to physical sensations, and are important in hunting.

Interested in supporting the South Carolina Aquarium? Become a volunteer or “adopt” an otter today.

Dusk on the Ashley River

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Dusk provides a vivid palette of colors over the scenic Ashley River, named for Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury.

“The Ashley River is perhaps unparalleled in its unique combination of historical significance and natural resource value as a relatively undisturbed tidal ecosystem. The Ashley River area contains 26 separate sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Ashley River is a tidal river. Its character changes with each hour of the day as the saltwater flows in and out of Charleston Harbor. This creates a dynamic ecosystem where saltwater and freshwater organisms reside within a few miles of each other. Wildlife and vegetation patterns shift longitudinally reflecting the influence of the saltwater wedge.” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Fact sheet on the Ashley River (PDF) Brochure on the Ashley River (PDF – file size 2M) Maps of Ashley River and 2010 Water Quality Impairments (PDF)

Sunset over the Ravenel bridge

 (Kathryn Wagner)

The sun sets over the Cooper river and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge in Charleston, South Carolina.

“The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge over theCooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The eight lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the second longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere. It was built using the design-build method and was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff.” -Wikipedia

Home every year to the Cooper River Bridge Run, and a lifeline for many in the Lowcountry, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge is a great illustration of how transportation in Charleston has evolved over the past century. The bridge has even been featured on television. Originally dubbed the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge for former Charleston mayor John P. Grace, the original span was 2.7 miles long and warranted a review by the Mayor and a three day party upon opening in 1929. Crossing the Cooper has not only been important for motorists and annual bridge runners; but also for those looking for a challenging workout involving an incline – sometimes hard to come by while living at sea level. The Ravenel bridge is able to provide just that, with a running/cycling lane walled off from regular traffic. Talk about a workout with a view!

 (Kathryn Wagner)

The John P. Grace Memorial Bridge on opening day, August 8, 1929. Via Wikipedia.

Fishing for a catch of the Ashley River

 (Kathryn Wagner)

I love how people still have a strong connection to the land here in the Lowcountry. This is Steve, he is a native Charlestonian fishermen with a passion for seafood. He gives away most of what he catches to friends and elderly neighbors, and his favorite catch to eat is shrimp. Utilizing a cast net on the banks of the Ashley River, you can spot Steve most evenings doing what he loves: fishing.

Beauty in the Lowcountry

 (Kathryn Wagner)

One of the joys of photographing in the heart of Charleston’s historic district is the abundance of gardens everywhere you look. Window boxes seem almost mandatory, and often are overflowing with bright beautiful color. Just as “Southern women make the effort” southern homeowners seem to do the same. And we are all the better for it. If there is one city that is a shining example of Urban Horticulture, Charleston is it. From House and Garden tours in the fall, to beautiful city parks, Charleston is a shining example of the beauty to be found in the Lowcoutry.

Hampton Park

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Spanish moss hangs from trees lining a walkway to the bandstand in the City of Charleston’s Hampton Park.

“The park was named in honor of Confederate General Wade Hampton III who, after the Civil War, had become governor of South Carolina. The bandstand from the South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition of 1901–1902, once located in the center of the park, was saved and moved to its present location at the east edge of the park at the foot of Cleveland St.[7] In addition, the building at 30 Mary Murray Blvd., which is currently used as the city’s Parks Department offices, was retained from the exposition, where it served as a tea house.” – Wikipedia

 (Kathryn Wagner)

Above, a postcard of the Sunken Gardens, from the South Carolina Inter-state and West Indian Exposition. The Charleston Horticultural Society has a fabulous series of self guided audio tours for your next stroll around Hampton Park.