Flying Fish

A Few More Memories
by Nicole Carlozo -- March 21st, 2012

My time at Duke is winding to an end, but my adventures are not. My Watershed Science & Policy field class began last week, and I soon found myself knee-deep in forests, farms, and wetlands!

I’ve had my fair share of mosquito and chigger experiences over the past few years. Every time I find myself in a buggy situation, I’m reminded why I study the marine environment. There’s nothing like the salty water, cool breezes, and refuge from terrestrial terrors. You might argue that a jellyfish sting or blue crab pinch is just as bad as a swarm of mosquitoes, but I wouldn’t agree.

Nevertheless, I found myself walking in the Croatan National Forest last week with my Watershed Science and Policy class. I guess if I’m going to love the water, I have to love the land as well.

Day 1: National Forest Pocosin Streams

Our search for pristine streams led us down a long dirt road and through managed forest areas.  Over the next three weeks, we will compare these pristine waters to those near tree plantations, farms, and developed areas.

Croatan National Forest, pristine blackwater stream.

Exploring the forest...

Day 2: Open Grounds Farm

Look at an aerial photo of Carteret County, and you can’t miss it. At about 50,000 acres, Open Grounds Farm is the largest farm east of the Mississippi. And it’s right here in our backyard!

As we rolled down the farm’s dirt and gravel road, I looked out at the never-ending fields and was awestruck at the scale of agriculture surrounding us. Although corn, soybeans, wheat, and other row crops are commonly grown on these great fields, we saw none. Instead, we searched for flashboard risers, drainage ditches, canals, and wetlands; namely, the farm’s water filtration and control structures.

Aerial photo of Open Grounds Farm, courtesy of Google Earth.

Aerial photo of Open Grounds Farm, courtesy of Google Earth.

Flashboard riser and view across an agricultural field. Flashboard risers hold water in ditches and allow the farmers to control water movement through their farms and to the estuary.

Along with water control, Open Grounds Farm has a wetland system for water filtration and drainage into the South River.

Along with water control, Open Grounds Farm has a wetland system for water filtration and drainage into the South River.

Day 3: Back Creek

After 2 days of land-based field excursions, we finally made it onto the water. Soon we found our way up the Intracoastal Waterway with trawl and water sampling equipment in hand. Along the way, we learned first-hand about biotic and abiotic estuary dynamics.

A trip up the Intracoastal Waterway led us to the marshes of Back Creek!

A trip up the Intracoastal Waterway led us to the marshes of Back Creek!

At the end of our journey, we trawled in search of fishes and invertebrates! Our bounty, however, was small. Just one lone female blue crab, a perch, and quite a few anchovies amidst the grass and sediment.

Stay tuned for a summary of this week’s exciting adventures!

To come: Exploring forestry, fun with wetlands, and…did I hear someone say “stream assessment?”

 

©2016 Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University | Box 90328 | Durham, NC 27708
how to contact us > | login to the site > | site disclaimers >

footer nav stuff