This week we continue our NC Icons series with loggerhead sea turtles, number nine on Our State magazine’s 100 North Carolina Icons list. Loggerhead sea turtles are an endangered species that nest along North Carolina’s coast (and as far south as Florida and north to Virginia). The State Library of North Carolina has additional information on loggerheads and other endangered species in North Carolina.
Our State magazine writes, “Turtles nest on our Carolina beaches from May to August, with eggs hatching between July and October. On the coast during that time? Keep an eye out for activity and avoid disturbing the nests.” As hatching season begins, we have two books that will teach you and help you explore the loggerheads’ habitat (and remember not to disturb the nests).
For some years, The Nature of North Carolina’s Southern Coast: Barrier Islands, Coastal Waters, and Wetlands has stood as an essential resource for all who treasure our coastal environment. In this book, Dirk Frankenberg describes the southern coast’s beaches, inlets, and estuaries and instructs readers in the responsible exploration and enjoyment of some of North Carolina’s most precious natural areas. From Ocracoke Inlet to the South Carolina border, this field guide provides a close-up look at a complex ecosystem, highlighting the processes that have shaped, and continue to shape, North Carolina’s southern coast.
Frankenberg identifies over 50 different areas of interest along 180 miles of coastline and presents images to help identify natural processes, plants, and plant communities. In addition, he addresses threats to these fragile coastal areas and possible solutions for these threats.
Like loggerheads, North Carolina’s coast is in danger. The North Carolina barrier islands, a 325-mile-long string of narrow sand islands that forms the coast of North Carolina, are one of the most beloved areas to live and visit in the United States. However, extensive barrier island segments and their associated wetlands are in jeopardy. In The Battle for North Carolina’s Coast: Evolutionary History, Present Crisis, and Vision for the Future, four experts on coastal dynamics (Stanley R. Riggs, Dorothea V. Ames, Stephen J. Culver, and David J. Mallinson) examine issues that threaten this national treasure.
According to the authors, the North Carolina barrier islands are not permanent. Rather, they are highly mobile piles of sand that are impacted by sea-level rise and major storms and hurricanes. Our present development and management policies for these changing islands are in direct conflict with their natural dynamics. Revealing the urgency of the environmental and economic problems facing coastal North Carolina, this essential book offers a hopeful vision for the coast’s future if we are willing to adapt to the barriers’ ongoing and natural processes.
Take a visit to North Carolina’s coast to both enjoy the beautiful scenery and learn about its fragile ecosystem, from sea turtles to barrier islands. Also remember to keep an eye on our NC icons tag as each week we recommend more books about North Carolina’s best features.