Magic in the Ocean
THE NIGHT BEFORE WE OPENED the 2018 Idea House in Habersham, South Carolina, our hosts at the Anchorage 1770 in nearby Beaufort took us on a little boat cruise. Amy and Frank Lesesne, who fell in love with the historic waterfront mansion, bought and renovated it, and opened it as an inn in 2015, said we hadn’t really seen the town until we’d seen it from the water. We walked across the street with a cooler full of refreshments, and within minutes we were cruising down the Beaufort River toward Parris Island. Classic Lowcountry homes with wide porches and long docks lined the banks, and the sun was setting over the spartina—or, as Beaufort local Pat Conroy once put it, “the vast green expanses of marsh, feminine as lace, delicate as calligraphy.”
But the real highlight of the trip wasn’t the scenery—it was the dolphins. The first ones popped up not long after we had left the dock, playfully trailing alongside the boat like a welcome committee. Even our Beaufort friends got excited. “Dolphin!” people would shout, pointing as the shiny gray dorsal fins broke the surface. “Another one!” As a former Charleston resident who has seen a lot of dolphins, I never get tired of them, and that night we were lucky enough to see dozens, just as the sun was going down. At one point there was a school of five or 10 chasing baitfish right in front of us, so close you could almost touch them. We all had our phones out to take pictures, of course, but some things just don’t translate on Instagram.
As anyone who lives on the coast can tell you, there’s magic in the ocean, and that’s why we’re launching a new column this month called “Ocean Heroes,” written by best-selling author Susan Casey. Her books The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks; The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean; and Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins have all chronicled the power and mystery of marine environments, as well as the challenges faced by the creatures who live there. Susan also happens to be a terrific writer, a competitive swimmer, and a fierce champion of healthy oceans. Her story on page 34 about Ed Lyman, who disentangles humpback whales from fishing nets and other debris, is a frightening reminder of how fragile these species are, as well as an inspiring story of the people risking their lives to protect them. Look for more heroes like Ed in the issues to come.
Beaufort River views from the Anchorage 1770 inn in Beaufort, South Carolina