By: Tyresha Cunningham
Pamlico Sound is a shallow body of water along the eastern shore of North Carolina, U.S.
Blue crabs use soft bottom for overwintering and protection from predators. The young megalopa and crabs in the softshelled stage live in the SAV. Adults forage in hard bottom, shell bottom and wetlands.
Estuaries help control erosion and reduce flooding of the mainland. Sand bars buffer the impact of waves, while plants and shellfish beds anchor the shore against tides. Swamps and marshes take the initial impact of high winds moving in from the ocean, soak up heavy rain and storm surges, and release the extra water gradually into rivers and groundwater supplies.
Swamps and marshes along the edges of the coast provide feeding grounds and shelter for many adult fish and shellfish. Cypress, tuple, and swamp maple trees grow in swamp forests, whereas grasses such as black needle rush and cord grasses predominate in salt marshes. Freshwater marshes support cattails, bull rushes, and reeds. River herring spawn in the swamps, while adult river herring, Atlantic menhaden, and bluefish live in the open water.
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