Hōkūleʻa passes near Cape Lookout National Seashore
As Hōkūleʻa and her crew move up the Intracoastal Waterway, they are passing through waters and coastlines that teach us valuable lessons about precious natural resources and how our environment changes over time. This week, Hōkūleʻa passed inland of Core Banks, a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina that comprise part of the Outer Banks and the National Park Service’s Cape Lookout National Seashore. Learn more about the wild horses, marine ecosystems and maritime history of Cape Lookout National Seashore as Hōkūleʻa passes by!
Cape Lookout is home to rich terrestrial and marine ecosystems.The waters surrounding the park are feeding grounds for marine mammals and sea turtles. Four sea turtle species – Loggerhead, Green, Kemp’s Ridley, and Leatherback – are sometimes seen feeding in area waters.
Many migratory bird species can be observed passing by the cape in the Fall and Spring and pelagic seabirds can be seen along the seashore when ocean storms drive them to seek the shelter of land. Birds are the most easily observed animals in the park. In Summer, a number of tern species, egrets, black skimmers, herons, piping plovers and other shorebirds nest within the park’s boundaries.
The cape is home to only a few land mammals, most notably the population of horses that became wild and adopted the cape as their home for the past few hundred years. Although salt and brackish water environments dominate the islands, a few fresh water habitats support tree frogs and Fowler’s toads. While diamond-back terrapins prefer the salt marsh areas, the grasslands are the preferred habitat for five-lined racerunner lizards and black racer snakes.
Cape Lookout, with its strong currents and shallow shoals, was a dangerous place for ships so in 1812, the cape’s first lighthouse was built in to warn sailors. The dangers of coastal North Carolina and other areas along the Atlantic coast were recognized shortly after colonial settlements were established in North America. At the turn of the 19th century, the state of North Carolina established “wreck districts” with commissioners, or venue masters, and local residents who assisted ships in distress. 3 life saving stations were built along the coast which is now Cape Lookout National Seashore. The ‘surfmen’ that operated these stations launched rescues of wrecked ships along the outer banks and ran drills to keep their lifesaving skills sharp.
To learn more about the Cape Lookout National Seashore’s rich ecology and history, visit their website. To learn more about how the National Park Service is celebrating their 100th birthday this year, visit their centennial website!
More than Adventure
Beyond a daring expedition, the Worldwide Voyage is quite possibly the most important mission that Hawaiʻi has ever attempted. As people of Oceania, we are leading a campaign that gives voice to our ocean and planet by highlighting innovative solutions practiced by cultures around the planet.
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