Why is sea water salty? Why are there tides? What is a “mudflat?” What are those holes and tubes in the beach?
One of the greatest wonders of Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry is our nature, the ecology of the place, something we have long protected. And few have captured it better than environmental scientist Todd Ballentine and his ever popular book, Tideland Treasures: The Naturalist’s Guide to the Beaches and Salt Marshes of Hilton Head Island and the Southeastern Coast. While the long title is a mouthful, the book (originally published in 1983 and in its “umteenth” printing) is simply a complete delight. If you’re planning on a visit to Hilton Head Island (or are already here), get a copy now, right away, no excuses. You’ll think we are the coolest people in the world when you get it.
The book is based on Ballentine’s “column” (really a beautifully illustrated comic strip style) in The Island Packet called “On Earth” that the newspaper published in the 1970s and 80s when Ballentine and his family were island residents. Tideland Treasures takes the reader from the sea to the beach to the marsh, the plants and animals to a discussion about conservation. It is written in terms the layman can easily understand.
For those of us who have been living on the island for some time, we remember Ballantine opening up a whole new world for us with “On Earth.” We learned, for example, that shrimp had a set of “feet” for eating, another for walking, and still another for swimming!
The book is definitely user-friendly, for parents and kids. No buttons to push, no batteries needed. It will add any entirely new dimension to your island vacation.
The book is available at Amazon.com, and on Hilton Head Island at the Coastal Discovery Museum, the Island Bookseller and Barnes & Noble.