Protecting the natural beauty, abundant wildlife and unique cultural heritage of the South Carolina Lowcountry since 1992.
The ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve lies in one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the east coast of the United States. Its nearly 100,000 acres are home not only to wildlife, including shortnose sturgeon, loggerhead sea turtles, diamondback rattlesnakes and bald eagles, but also to cultural and archaeological resources that tell the complex history of this land. The Reserve serves as a community hub for coastal science and learning in the heart of the ACE Basin.
The ACE Basin Reserve serves as a living laboratory for biologists to study water quality, marsh health, fish, crustaceans, sea turtles and birds, among many other research areas.
A biologist studies a piece of vegetation in the marsh
Along with a number of partners, we conduct studies to better understand fish and bird populations, shoreline change and impacts to coastal habitats.
Researchers aboard a boat setting up monitoring equipment
We monitor weather, water quality and marsh health across the Reserve to document short-term variability and long-term changes in the estuary.
An example map of Big Bay Creek showing land cover such as spartina marsh and sand flats as well as man-made infrastucture like porewater wells.
We develop maps to better understand the relationships between habitat and both man-made and natural environmental stressors.
Our educators provide place-based marine science programs that focus on the conservation of the state’s coastal natural resources, as well as relevant science standards.
A SCDNR educator showing a male stingray to students
We offer land- and boat-based student programs led by our education staff across the coastline.
A group on the beach gathered around an instructor
We offer free public programs to inspire stewardship and appreciation of our coastal resources.
Teachers on the beach completing a group assignment
Every summer we offer a workshop for teachers using South Carolina estuaries as our classroom.
Do you regularly make decisions about coastal resources in a professional or volunteer capacity? We offer expert-led, science-based training sessions to help leaders like you address natural resource management issues in South Carolina’s coastal communities.
An instructor assisting a workshop participant one-on-one
Does your community need support to make critical decisions about coastal resources? We can help.
A resource preview showing the Low Impact Development Guide
Find resources to help your community address local coastal management issues.