The Outer Banks' Wild Side
I'm interested...where is this, exactly?
Currituck Sound is an oblong estuary with an area of 153 square miles in the Currituck and Dale counties of North Carolina that also goes a bit into southeastern Virginia.
Estuaries are important ecosystems: they provide places for thousands of species of fish, birds, marine mammals, insects, and shellfish to live, feed, and breed. To add to that, many migratory birds use estuaries as a pit stop, and the ecosystem as a whole acts as a filter for pollutants that would otherwise end up in the ocean plus mitigating flooding. That isn't even starting in on the economic importance of estuaries: 75% of commercially caught fish are caught in estuaries, which have an estimated value of 4.3 billion dollars. Many of the fish that are caught recreationally are also caught in estuaries.
The Main Attraction
Currituck Sound is an area that any good nature lover might just have a heart attack over. Some of the species found there include largemouth bass, sunfish, Canadian geese, ducks, swans, egrets, herons, otters, nutrias, catfish, white-tailed deer (there are maritime forests very close to the beach), raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels, as well as pine trees and wild horses.
Where's My Water (Coming From)?
The main bodies of water that feed into Currituck Sound are the North Landing River, the Northwest River, Buck Bay (through a system of channels), and the Great Dismal Swamp.
Unfortunately, the estuaries of North Carolina are under attack. As more land in North Carolina is developed, more pollutants are drained into the local watershed, and many of those watersheds drain into the estuaries of North Carolina. The pollutants that are currently draining into the estuaries of North Carolina include nitrogen and phosphorous which contribute to algal blooms that can cause eutrophication (which could upset the ecosystem's balance), heavy metals, excess sediments, and toxic chemicals like carcinogens and poisons. Besides pollutants, the organisms in estuaries face habitat loss due to human development and the entire estuarine ecosystem stands at risk because of global warming.