Croatan Sound

Estuary on North Carolina's Coast

The Outer Banks' Lil Estuary

Croatan Sound is one of the smaller estuaries along the coast of the Outer Banks, but can definately be described as the most beautiful. The estuary is located between the mainland of North Carolina and Roanoke Island. Travelers can take a trip and explore the scenic body of water on the bridge stretching across it, or by foot and enjoy the secret little gem of the Outer Banks
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What Is It?

An estuary is a body of water where the ocean meets a river, or where saltwater meets freshwater. Estuaries provide important habitats for a variety of plants and animals that thrive in the unique conditions. They also provide transportation and prime fishing conditions, allowing boats to enter and exit the mainland through the natural waterway. The Croatan Sound estuary also provides great recreational services, attracting thousands of people annually to swim, boat, fish, and watch wildlife.


The Croatan estuary is home to a plethora of beautiful plants and intriguing wildlife. Visiting the marshes along the estuary can become a trip of animal watching, so keep an eye out for marsh periwinkle snails hiding in cordgrass, egrets and osprey feeding on the marsh, meadowlarks nesting in the high marsh, and sand fiddler crabs digging in the sand.


There are many bodies of water that flow into Croatan Sound. Some are small streams, and others are larger estuaries! Some along this list include Manns Harbor, the Albermarle and Currituck Sounds, Spencer Creek, Poster and Gar Gut, Reeds Point, and Mashoes Marsh, to name a few. These different bodies of water contribute to the beautiful estuary, Croatan Sound

Threats to Estuaries

These beautiful bodies of water, home to many species and recreation to many people, are actively threatened by littering, pollution, and many other human caused reasons. Wetlands have been destroyed by coastal development, and nearly half have been lost because of this. Dredging channels stirs up more sediment, making the original problem worse, and not only that, but clogs the gills of fishes with the loose dirt and contaminants. Pollutants deposit nitrogen and phosphorous which cause the growth of algal blooms, and these growths can cause aquatic wildlife and plant death. Estuaries are important for preventing shoreline erosion, weakening the impact of storms, producing fish as food, and so many more things humans benefit from. We need to protect our estuaries from being ruined. Click the link below to read more about threats to estuaries and what you can do to help protect them.

A beautiful view of the shore of Croatan Sound by the pier

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