Roanoke Sound

North Carolina Estuary

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The Roanoke Sound is a sound that separates Roanoke Island from Bodie Island of the Outer Banks. To the north of the Roanoke Sound lies the Albemarle Sound and to the south lies the Pamlico Sound. One bridge, which carries U.S. Highway 64, crosses the sound.

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Estuaries HELP control erosion and reduce flooding of the mainland, they are a type of environmental filter as plants and animals in estuaries filter pollutants out of the water.

Particles in the water are either removed by chemical processes (aerobic respiration, sulfate reduction, methanogenesis) or by the feeding of estuarine animals and bacteria.

Salt marsh plants trap some of the chemicals and pathogens carried by rivers and move them into soils where they can be neutralized.

Oysters filter impurities out of water as they eat, collecting the contaminants in their bodies. Bacteria eat organic matter found in the sediment and in turn release carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfate and methane into the atmosphere preventing these gases from being excessively stored up in the estuary.

Three quarters of the fish caught commercially in the United States live in estuaries, meaning that on average, estuaries produce more food per acre than our most productive farmland. About thirty commercial fishing species live in North Carolina estuaries and this is important to the national economy and food supply.

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The land has created fertile farmland for cotton, corn, tobacco, peanuts and soybeans.

Also this estuary contains anadromous fish.

At least 220 bird species are found in the Roanoke floodplain, including 88 resident species.

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There are 9,299 miles of freshwater rivers and streams in the estuarine ecosystem.

The Roanoke River floodplain contains the largest and least-disturbed bottomland forest ecosystem in the eastern slope of North America, and the Albemarle-Pamlico region includes the greatest extent of pocosin wetlands in the world.

Six river basins flow in to the estuary: Chowan, Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Pasquotank and White Oak.

The largest river basin in the Albemarle-Pamlico region is the Roanoke.

Water from 43 NC counties and 38 VA county and cities drain into the estuary.
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The complex ecosystem of North Carolina estuaries is harmed by changes to the land bordering and surrounding the estuaries and by contamination of river and ocean water. Although the North Carolina estuaries contain 3,000 square miles of surface water, 30,000 square miles of land drains into the Albemarle-Pamlico system. As land is developed for human habitation and use, roads, bridges, culverts, sewage systems, pipelines, and dams change the flow of water through the ecosystem. Whereas wetlands soak up water like a sponge and settle contaminants in the ground, asphalt and concrete deflect water so that it runs off with all its contaminants directly into the rivers, estuaries, and the sea.
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