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In Pictures: On the water in South Carolina
By Tom Adkinson
May 20, 2023

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MURRELLS INLET, S.C. – Delicious seafood meals are a major part of visiting coastal South Carolina, and seeing where some of that seafood originates adds a special touch to a visit. Howie Strickland, the captain and onboard naturalist of an 80-passenger pontoon excursion boat, can open your eyes to places your seafood calls home with his two-hour trips on Murrells Inlet. Where he docks is just south of Myrtle Beach, and Strickland says the inlet is the only saltwater estuary on the East Coast.

‘Explorer’ in its natural habitat

murrells inlet
Strickland’s boat, aptly named Explorer, takes you away – but not too far away – from coastal development. As each trip starts, he puts out a crab trap for later retrieval and then pulls a small dredge on the bottom. What the dredge collects goes into a touch tank for you to inspect. Image by

Cute, but not cuddly

sea urchin
A passenger on the Explorer shows of a sea urchin that Strickland’s dredge temporarily took from its home on the bottom of Murrells Inlet. Image by

Snowy egret stalks its prey

murrells inlet  egret
Despite considerable talk about what’s under the water, Strickland bills his outings a bird-watching eco-tours. Expect to see egrets, herons, oystercatchers and even bald eagles. Image by Myrtle Beach CVB

Its beak can hold more than its belly can

murrells inlet pelican
This pelican on a piling is enjoying some South Carolina sunshine not far from waterside residences and resorts. Image by Myrtle Beach CVB

Time for some beachcombing

murrells inlet explorer
A tour treat is when the 54-foot-long Explorer eases into an isolated beach. Passengers unload for a beach walk and opportunities to collect banded tulips, heart cockles, whelks and other shells. Image by

Dining after a cruise

murrells inlet seafood platter
Back at the dock, several restaurants that feature seafood are within walking distance. Among them are the Claw House, Drunken Jack’s and the Dead Dog Saloon. Strickland calls these meals “boat to throat” experiences. Image by Myrtle Beach CVB

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on

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