If you're in search of dolphins, just follow the seafood. A dolphin eats up 50 pounds of fish and shellfish every day. That's a whole lot of fishing for one sea mammal. Where there's fish, there's a good chance there will be dolphins.
Myrtle Beach Dolphin Cruises, home of the Sea Thunder and the Sea Screamer boats, has come up with a brilliant way to find dolphins in North Myrtle Beach and Little River. They follow shrimp boats. Because you know who else follows shrimp boats? Those hungry dolphins.
Besides loving seafood, dolphins are also really smart. They know that shrimp boats throw hundreds of pounds of unwanted fish from their nets back over the side of the boat. This "bycatch" is easy pickings for the dolphins, as well as hundreds of birds and even a shark or two that follow the shrimping boats out of the South Carolina coast.
While some dolphin tour companies find small groups of dolphins swimming in the calm waters of estuaries, creeks and marshes, the Sea Thunder and Sea Screamer go right out into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a huge part of the fun. After a peaceful journey down the Intracoastal Waterway, the captain gives a warning: if you don't want to get wet, go to the back of the boat. While passing through the inlet, the waves start, and when you finally get past the jetties, you'll know you're really in the ocean. The boat picks up speed and bounces and splashes through the waves. Our kids stood up along the front of the boat, and as promised, got soaked. It sounded like the whole boat was laughing.
Once we pulled up behind a shrimp boat, the show really began. There were probably a hundred dolphins in the water the day we went. They dove in and out of the water, so close that you could see their faces. Huge swarms of birds darted through the air.
We followed the shrimp boat at a little distance, floating among the dolphins who paid us no mind. Before we knew it, the time was up, and we were back to bouncing across the waves to the inlet.
What a wonderful day on the water, with dolphins, birds, shrimp and a boat full of families having a great time.