Growing Up Gullah with Botany Bay Ecotours


Latest Articles…


Botany Bay Eco Tours welcomes Miss Sarah Burnell, Edisto native, to their Tuesday Night Dolphin Tours. Explore Edisto joined in the fun earlier this week and got a sneak peak at the Gullah Geechee themed boat tour.

Edisto native, Ms. Sarah Burnell speaking on the Gullah/Geechee tour by Botany Bay Ecotours.

 Meg Hoyle of Botany Bay Eco Tours is a licensed biologist who shares her expert knowledge of the ace basin, its ecological system and the many species that call it home. Setting off from the marina on Edisto Beach the tour wound its way down the river while Meg pointed out birds, sea life, and flora, while explaining how each operates in unison with the rest of the eco system.

A view of Edisto Island/Beach by boat.

 Right away we spotted a Great Blue Heron. The Great Blue Heron was once on the verge of extinction in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s due to the trend of using their feathers in ladies hats. Thanks to the actions of ladies at Smith College and the Massachusetts Audubon Society the conservation movement grew and spread. Their vigilance in stopping the slaughter led to the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Heron soon fought its way from the brink of extinction.

A stunning egret among the marsh grass in front of Edisto Beach, SC.

Spontaneously throughout our tour Mrs. Sarah would share with us the melodic songs of the Geechee , clapping in the traditional three beat rhythm that can rise and fall at different times through one song.  Sarah is a natural born entertainer and she was clearly delighted to sing for us. Born in 1935 her parents were natives of Edisto and brought her to the island when she was just a year old.

Meg Hoyle of Botany Bay Ecotours speaks to guests on the Gullah/Geechee Ecotour.

 The Gullah Geechie Nation holds its ties in West Africa. The Gola people were rice producers and the Kissi were valued for their weaving and iron working skills. Today you will find the basket weaving of the Gullah people in America will be identical to those by the Kissi in Africa. The similarities of language, stories, cooking and crafting are undeniably clear.

A silhouette of Palmetto trees and an island in the distance.

 Our hosts continued the tour, dividing their story telling between the wildlife and eco systems and the stories and songs of the people who carved out an existence on these Sea Islands.  Dolphins rolled through the water’s surface as the sun set on our boat trip. Our hearts and minds brimming with the rich experience we were given.  

A winding creek, marsh grass and a view of Edisto Island in the distance.

 If you have been thinking of joining a Botany Bay Eco Tour or are interested in learning more about the culture of the island people, you will be entertained and informed with this trip. Please make sure to check the schedule for the Gullah Dolphin Tour times at  or call 1-800-979-3370 and mention Explore Edisto or use the discount code ATW when booking!