HomeAbout UsProgramsContact Us

Inner Sea Expedition

The Inner Sea Expedition cruise begins from our dock in downtown Beaufort, North Carolina. As we head out of Taylor's Creek the historic white clapboard homes of Beaufort are to our north, Carrot Island is to our south, and Duke Marine Lab is to our west. Fishing boats and interesting sail craft, both modern and historic, are usually found in Taylor's Creek. Discussion for the start of the trip focuses on the general ecology of the area, along with consideration of human impacts to the environment that can be observed.

A short distance from Taylor's Creek lies the lower Newport River and Bogue Sound. In these waters we deploy a bottom dredge that harvests a vast array of invertebrates, including crabs, sea urchins, sea squirts, soft corrals, bryozoans, and dozens of other species.

While half of the students are studying the dredge catch, the other the other half will be fishing! After about 20 minutes the groups rotate so that everybody does the same activities. We provide everything that's needed for fishing. Likely catch include pin-fish, sea bass, croaker and, occasionally, flounder and small sharks. Taking students fishing is a great way to spark their interest in the natural world.

When we travel towards Shackleford Banks, we pass by Fort Macon and view the fort from the same positions the Union gun boats did during the siege of the fort during the Civil War. Bottlenose dolphin are often sighted as we cross Beaufort Inlet en route to Shackleford.

We usually spend approximately one hour on Shackleford Banks and two hours of the program on the boat. On approximately 5% of the trips we conduct, the ocean waves coming in Beaufort Inlet do not permit us to comfortably cross the inlet in order to make it to Shackleford Banks. While this keeps us from conducting activities on Shackleford, there are several advantages when such a scenario arises. During such conditions we restructure the trip to allow additional time for the students to both fish and sort through the dredge catch. We also are able to explore more areas in the boat. This provides us with a greater likelihood of seeing more dolphin.

During the trips where conditions permit us to travel to Shackleford Banks (95% of the time) we explore the tidal bays on the sound side of this remarkable island. Our instructors guide the students as they pull seine nets to collect juvenile fish, crabs, shrimp, and other life.Students also dig for clams on the sandy bottom of the sound. Topics discussed include food webs,

seasonal transitions, the importance of estuaries, and population considerations. Discussion also focuses on the economic importance of shellfishing and how pollution has affected this traditional livelihood.

Over 100 wild horses roam the beaches and dunes of Shackleford Banks. Some of these "banks' ponies" are usually seen, often up close, during a visit to Shackleford. They make for an interesting case study that includes biology, history, and social studies.

About Shackleford Banks: Shackleford Banks is an 8 mile long completely undeveloped barrier island. Known for its tall dunes, historic settlements long abandoned, and for the wild horses that roam its shores, Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Carolina Ocean Studies PO Box 550 Carolina Beach, NC 28428 Phone: (910) 458-7302 Fax: (910) 458-9333