Pamlico Sound

By: Kayla Larson

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Pamlico Sound

The Pamlico Sound is the largest estuary in North Carolina and the second largest in the United States. The Chesapeake Bay is the biggest. It is located on the inside of the outer banks of North Carolina. The sound is fed by three different inlets, Oregon Inlet, Hatteras Inlet and Ocracoke Inlet. These not only connect with the Atlantic Ocean, but has the same salinity levels as the water levels. Throughout the sound, an average depth is about five or six feet, even far offshore.

Plants and Animals

There are a variety of plants and animals found in the Pamlico Estuary. Depending on the area and whether the water is fresh or salted or mixed will depend on what kind of plants will be found there. Cypress, tupelo, and swamp maple trees grow in swamp forests, whereas grasses, such as black needlerush and cordgrasses are mostly salt marshes. Freshwater marshes support cattails, bulrushes, and reeds. Some animals include; the blue and stone crab, oysters, clams, black sea bass, flounder, spotted sea trout, red drum fish, and pink shrimp. The Loggerhead sea turtles even hatch on the beach and head out to Pamlico Sound to feed!

Threats

The North Carolina estuaries are harmed by changes to the land surrounding the estuaries and by contamination of river and ocean water. As the land is developed for human use, things such as; roads, bridges, culverts, sewage systems, pipelines, and dams, these change the flow of water through the ecosystem. Wetlands soak up water like a sponge gather contaminants in the ground, asphalt and concrete and the water runs off with all its contamination directly into the rivers, estuaries, and the sea. Global warming contributes to the ongoing issues for the estuaries. As the ocean levels rise and storms come through, erosion occurs and damages a widespread area of the estuary. Now, fecal matter from humans and animals also pollutes the waters. Human waste runs into rivers, estuaries and the sea when septic and sewage systems are overloaded. Bacteria and viruses that transmit diseases to humans are carried in human waste, which harms the animals in the waters. The trash from humans is an issue anywhere on the Earth but it is also a factor of a threat to the Pamlico Estuary. Many things can be done to help protect the waters. There are projects to help keep not only the estuaries and beaches clean, but the entire state of North Carolina. The best thing we can do is contribute to the projects and do our part to not harm the environment we live in.
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