Edisto Island: Shifting ACElines

A photographer documents the beaches of her youth along South Carolina’s ACE Basin as they shift and re-form beyond recognition.

When I returned to Edisto Island, South Carolina, for the first time in 20 years last summer, I expected to find the beach of my family’s memories—the place where my grandparents kissed as a young couple half a century ago, where my dad taught me how to fish, and where we launched my grandfather’s ashes into the sea on the outgoing tide, just as he had wished.

The beach I stood on seemed foreign, and in fact it was; in the years of my absence, landscape dynamics had eroded and reshaped it beyond recognition.

Coming to this realization was a sobering reminder that coastlines are naturally impermanent. While many geological processes take place over millions of years, coastlines have always evolved within our own short lifetimes.

Edisto Island is part of the ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped wetlands on the Atlantic coast, named for the confluence of the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers.

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