estuaries and such
- Southern Outer banks
- Estuaries are important natural places. They provide goods and services that are economically and ecologically indispensable. Often called nurseries of the sea (USEPA, 1993), estuaries provide vital nesting and feeding habitats for many aquatic plants and animals.
Dolphins and sea turtles are abundant, with occasional visits by seals such as harp seal in early January and February. Many other cetaceans including rare species such as fin whales, Cuvier's beaked whales, and orcas are present off Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras. Whales such as Atlantic gray (now extripated), North Atlantic right (critically endangerend), and North Atlantic humpback were historically common. Endangered species such as leather back turtles, great white sharks, and basking sharks are also known to visit the sound as well.
The sound also sports a variety of fish populations including red drum, speckled trout, flounder, striped bass (known as rockfish by local populations), croaker, spot,pompano, kingfish, and bluefish. In addition, shellfish populations including blue crab, shrimp, oysters, and clams are healthy.
- Pamlico Sound is connected to the north with Albemarle Sound through passages provided by the Roanoke Sound andCroatan Sound. Core Sound is located at the Pamlico's narrow southern end. It is fed by the Neuse and Pamlico rivers (the latter of which is the estuary of the Tar River) from the west and by Oregon Inlet, Hatteras Inlet, and Ocracoke Inlet, which also provide passage to the Atlantic Ocean.
- 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.