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The Coast

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Elevation: Sea level to 12 feet

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Topography: Flat land frequently changed by ocean currents, tides and storms

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Average annual rainfall: 48 to 50 inches

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Average winter temperature: 46 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit

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Average summer temperature: 80 to 81degrees Fahrenheit

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Characteristic habitats: Saltmarshes and maritime forests.

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Characteristic plants and animals: spartina grass and fiddler crabs.

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Towns and cities: Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Beaufort.

River otters are found in all regions of South Carolina (the Mountains, Piedmont, Sandhills, Coastal Plain, and Coast), but not in the ocean. They are found across North America, except the extreme northern regions of Canada and Alaska, the plains states and the desert regions of the Southwest. They are generally found in areas with average winter temperatures above 0 degrees Fahrenheit and average summer temperatures below 85 degrees Fahrenheit and in areas with an average annual rainfall above 10 inches. They are found in regions that have freshwater and brackish water habitats such as streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, swamps and marshes, both fresh and salt.

Detailed Information

Detailed Information gives more in-depth background to increase your own knowledge, in case you want to expand upon the activity or you are asked detailed questions by students.

South Carolina is divided into five separate geographic regions, each with its own unique topography. These regions are the Mountains, the Piedmont, the Sandhills, the Coastal Plain and the Coast. Though some animals can be found in all five regions, each region contains unique communities determined by the physical features of the region. For example, the American alligator, found throughout the Coastal Plain of South Carolina, is not found in the Mountain region. This animal is adapted for living in large pools of standing water, such as swamps and ponds. Because of the sharp relief in the Mountains, water in most places is always flowing and a swamp habitat cannot exist. Also, the climate is often too cool for the cold-blooded alligator. Conversely, the trout that are abundant in the cool, shallow, fast-moving streams of the Mountains are not able to survive in the warm, slow-moving, murky waters of the blackwater swamps of the Coastal Plain. Spartina grass, which dominates the saltmarsh because of its tolerance to saltwater, cannot compete in freshwater habitats with other plants and so is not found out of the brackish waters of the Coast habitat. In all these cases, the abiotic factors of the regions determine which organisms can live there and thus what communities develop there.

From COASTeam Aquatic Workshops: Mountains (Grade 4); a joint effort between the

COASTeam Program at the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium – funded by the SC Sea Grant Consortium.

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