“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Corolla in Currituck County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Life on Currituck Sound

Life on Currituck Sound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 23, 2014
1. Life on Currituck Sound Marker
Brackish Marsh
According to the description found in William Byrd’s diary from 1728, Currituck Banks was a wind-swept, overwash island that was sparsely vegetated with low shrubs and salt-tolerant red cedar. At that time, inlets opened Currituck Sound to the Atlantic Ocean, making the sound a high-salinity estuary. After the last inlet closed in 1830, the sound gradually became what it is now – almost a freshwater system. The closet opening to the sea is now Oregon Inlet, 45 miles south. Currituck Sound is classified as brackish, rarely exceeding two parts of salt water per thousand parts of water, compared to 35 parts per thousand in ocean water.

Water level in Currituck Sound is mainly determined by wind direction and speed rather than lunar tides. The water level is, therefore, relatively high when southerly winds push water in from Albemarle Sound and lower when northerly winds push water back into Albemarle Sound.

In the 1960s, a non-native aquatic plant called Eurasian milfoil appeared in Currituck Sound. The thick beds of milfoil blanketed the sound and pushed out native aquatic plants.
Brackish Marsh image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2014
2. Brackish Marsh
Blue Gill; Yellow Perch; Largemouth Bass; Brown Bullhead Catfish
Photos by Noel Burkhead
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However, the milfoil supported one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the United States. Catches of 50 to 100 bass per day were common. In the 1980s, salinity levels rose and much of the milfoil disappeared. In return, the bass population plummeted and has not been the same since. Currituck Sound still contains a rich resource of commercial and game fish. Largemouth bass, blue gill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, brown bullhead catfish and white catfish are some of the most common species.

Wading Birds
Great Blue Heron
Great blue herons can be seen throughout the year along the coast. Approximately 5,000 pairs nest in the Coastal Plain. A heron spends long periods of time standing motionless in the water, waiting for fish and other prey to come in range of its long neck and sharp bill.

Snowy Egret
Snowy egrets can be seen throughout the year, but are primarily a summer resident. Approximately 350 pairs nest in the state’s coastal estuaries. The snowy egret is typically seen dashing around shallow waters pursuing its prey. It is thought that is bright yellow feet may attract fish.

Great Egret
The great egret is an abundant species on the Coastal Plain that can be seen throughout the year. Approximately 5,000 pairs nest on the state’s estuarine islands and river swamps. Its large size
Wading Birds image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2014
3. Wading Birds
Great Egret; Snowy Egret; Great Blue Heron
and long legs allow it to hunt for prey in deeper and more open waters than most other wading birds.

Monkey Island
From the end of the boardwalk, looking out over the sound, you will notice a small island known as Monkey Island, which is believed to have been utilized by the Poteskeet Indians. Although their main village was located on the mainland, the Poteskeet hunted and fished in Currituck Sound. Oyster shells and pottery fragments have been found on Monkey Island, indicating the Poteskeet had some sort of encampment there. The discarded shells, resistant to seal level rise and erosion, accumulated over a few hundred years, thus allowing Monkey Island to remain an island today.

Monkey Island is an important breeding territory, or rookery, for wading birds like herons and egrets. Approximately 1,100 nests are found on the island each year, making Monkey Island the fourth largest rookery in North Carolina. Monkey Island is an ideal rookery because of the varying levels of tree canopy and its remote location, away from predators.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The osprey is a summer resident raptor that can be seen on the Carolina coast from March until late September when they migrate back to the Caribbean. Ospreys feed exclusively on fish by hovering over water and flying feet first to catch prey
Monkey Island image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2014
4. Monkey Island
Photo by Lawrence Wales
with their sharp talons or claws. They build nests on tall structures overlooking the water, such as dead trees and channel markers. Ospreys tend to use the same nest year after year. In the 1960s osprey populations decreased rapidly due to a pesticide called DDT that flowed into the waters where osprey hunted. DDT was banned in the early 1970s, and since the osprey populations have bounced back.

Currituck is a form of the Algonkian word meaning “land of the wild goose.” This naturally implies the long history of abundant waterfowl found in the area. Currituck Sound is located within the Atlantic Flyway and therefore attracts a diversity of migrating birds. Typical types of water fowl include dabbling ducks, diving ducks, geese, swans and coots. The Currituck Sound was once a wintering place for as many as 10% of the waterfowl on the Atlantic Flyway. Today numbers have declined considerably, but the sound still supports 20,000-25,000 duck, geese and swans annually.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsEnvironmentNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1728.
Location. 36° 23.401′ N, 75° 50.192′ W. Marker is in Corolla, North Carolina, in Currituck County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Ocean
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2014
5. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Osprey; Osprey nesting on a channel marker
Trail (State Highway 12) and North Beach Access Road, on the left when traveling north. Located on the boardwalk in the Currituck Banks Reserve. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Corolla NC 27927, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Corolla Chapel (approx. ¾ mile away); Corolla Schoolhouse (approx. 0.8 miles away); Corolla Historic Village (approx. 0.8 miles away); Kill Devil Hills (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Corolla Schoolhouse (approx. 0.9 miles away); Boats And Blinds (approx. 0.9 miles away); Welcome to a Wetland (approx. one mile away); Currituck Beach Light Station (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Corolla.
Also see . . .  Currituck Banks Reserve. North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Submitted on December 24, 2014.) 
Waterfowl image. Click for full size.
December 23, 2014
6. Waterfowl
Widgeon; Snow Goose; Canada Geese; Mallard
Life on Currituck Sound Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 23, 2014
7. Life on Currituck Sound Marker
Currituck Banks Reserve Boardwalk image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 23, 2014
8. Currituck Banks Reserve Boardwalk
Currituck Sound image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 23, 2014
9. Currituck Sound
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on December 24, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 389 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on December 24, 2014, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia.

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