“A sight to see!”
The Rachel Carson Reserve is located between the mouths of the Newport and North Rivers and directly across Taylor’s Creek from the historic town of Beaufort in Carteret County. The main part of the site, just south of Beaufort, is a complex of islands which includes Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island. These islands are more than three miles long and less than a mile wide. Middle Marsh, separated from the rest of the site by the North River Channel, is almost two miles long and less than a mile wide. The entire Rachel Carson component is 2,315 acres. Acquisition of the area was completed in 1985, with the addition of Middle Marsh in 1989. The islands and estuarine waters of the Rachel Carson Reserve are strongly influenced by river and inlet dynamics and the twice-daily tides. The resulting mix of fresh and salt water creates a pristine estuarine environment where juvenile fish and invertebrates find shelter and food. Diverse arrays of important coastal habitats are found at the site including: tidal flats, salt marshes, ocean beach, soft bottom, shell bottom, dredge spoil areas, sand dunes, shrub thicket, submerged aquatic vegetation, and maritime forest. More than 200 species of birds have been observed at the site, which is located within the Atlantic Migratory Flyway. Many species are considered rare or decreasing in number. The site is an important feeding area for Wilson’s plovers in the summer and piping plovers in the winter. The shrub thicket of Middle Marsh supports an egret and heron rookery. A diverse array of mammals inhabits the island including river otter, gray fox, marsh rabbit, raccoon, and a herd of feral horses. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, diamondback terrapins, sea turtles, and many species of fish and invertebrates are found in the estuarine waters surrounding the site.
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Rachel Carson Reserve
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