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Here’s why dolphins are swimming in the Waccamaw River

Dolphins swim in the Waccamaw River

Resident John Scarlatos captured video of dolphins swimming in the Waccamaw River near Wacca Wache Marina.
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Resident John Scarlatos captured video of dolphins swimming in the Waccamaw River near Wacca Wache Marina.

John Scarlatos was on his Sea-Doo with his son when he saw dolphins swimming in the Waccamaw River Tuesday.

“At first I thought it was a shark because I just saw a fin, and then we saw the dolphins just going in and out of the water,” Scarlatos said. “There must have been between seven and 10 of them.”

He was about a mile south of the Wacca Wache marina around 2 p.m. when he started videoing his experience.

If they stay too long in fresh water they start having skin lesions and skin issues.

Rob Young, Coastal Carolina University marine science professor

“I had never heard of dolphins in the river,” said Scarlatos, who’s lived in Murrells Inlet for five years. “They were heading north, so thinking where they had to have started from and where they’re going to end up, it’s just amazing. It was a unique thing to see.”

Coastal Carolina University marine science professor Rob Young said dolphins occasionally venture into fresh water to chase prey.

They were heading north, so thinking where they had to have started from and where they’re going to end up, it’s just amazing. It was a unique thing to see.

John Scarlatos

“It’s not unusual, but it’s also not common,” said Young of the river dolphins. “They will periodically travel into fresh water and sometimes go up into the waterway.”

The video was filmed on the river about 16 miles north of the U.S. Highway 17 bridge over Winyah Bay, according to Google Maps. But there have been dolphin sightings as far away as the bridge over U.S. Highway 501 in the past, he said.

“Given that, Wacca Wache is not quite as far a stretch,” Young said. “They can be in fresh water for up to several days without any major problems. If they stay too long in fresh water, they start having skin lesions and skin issues.”

Christian Boschult: 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

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