and Dune Adventure
The Dolphin & Dune Adventure is
our best program for dolphin watching, island exploring, and
encountering the endearing Banks' Ponies. Departing from
Beaufort,one of North Carolina's most charming seaports, we travel
through the Newport River marshes en route to a prime dolphin
watching location. Bottlenose dolphin, both adults
and juveniles, are almost always sited feeding and playing in
this area. Students will gain an understanding of these
remarkable marine mammals and their cousins, the great whales.
we travel towards Shackleford Banks, we usually pass by gigantic
freighters tied up at the Morehead port. We will also
view historic Fort Macon, the US Coast Guard Station, and usually
observe locally built shrimp boats and other native crafts.
is one of the most interesting islands on the east coast. Shackleford
is known for its extensive maritime forest, tall dunes, Banks'
Ponies, and for its historic long-abandoned settlements. Completely
undeveloped, this 9 mile long island is part of the Cape
Lookout National Seashore . We
spend approximately two hours on Shackleford.
by Kieth Rittmaster
photo by Richard Bamberger
While on the island we do activities
in two stations: the tidal flats on the sound side as
well as the ocean beach. The students explore the tidal flats
by pulling nets and digging for clams. Shrimp, hermit crabs,
and juvenile fish are usually collected. Searching over a man-made
rock groin uncovers a habitat for sea stars, sea anemones, and
other life usually associated with rocky shores. Topics discussed
include food webs, seasonal transitions, the importance of estuaries,
and population issues. Discussion also focuses on the economic
importance of shellfishing and how pollution has affected this
The beachfront of Shackleford
Banks provides a bounty of shell collecting and beachcombing.
Students learn about these shells and other "evidence of life" found
on this pristine beach. Other topics covered include the adaptation
of coastal plants and loggerhead sea turtle nesting.
The hike to and from the beach takes group
over soaring dunes with breath-taking panoramas of the island
and surrounding waters. We also go by a watering hole, where
the ponies have dug down into the sand to find water. Over 100
ponies roam wild on Shackleford Banks. Some of these Banks Ponies
are usually seen, often up close, during a visit to Shackleford. They
make for an intriguing case study that covers biology, history,
and social studies. An introduced species, they heavily damage
the native plants of the island. However, they are part
of the local heritage and there has been much resistance to their
removal. All this makes for an on-going, rich study for classes
that visit the island.