My favorite memories at the field site so far are the opportunities we have to explore the Outer Banks during field trips, facilitated by our directors Lindsay Dubbs and Linda D’Anna. Some work weeks end with a “field Friday,” when we’re collecting data for our Capstone. Other Fridays are dedicated to ecology lab work. Additionally our professors aim to apply concepts that we learn in both our ecology and management classes to our surroundings, through carefully organized group outings that often occur on Fridays.

A Friday in the Forest
One of the first “field Fridays” that we experienced as a cohort was a day of sampling in Buxton Woods. This field day consisted of collecting missing data from plots sampled the previous week as well as sampling a brand new plot, making our survey three plots total. We began this Friday with a breakfast from Orange Blossom Bakery & Cafe. I recommend trying a cinnamon roll or one of their famous apple uglies. The sampling was tedious and tiring, the incentive we needed to preserve was our pastries waiting for us in the van.
On other field days we’ve visited prominent members in the communities of Cape Hatteras and Buxton Woods. Some of my cohorts conducted their interviews on Fridays to assist in the completion of the sociological side of our Capstone Research. Through these “field Fridays” I learned a great deal about my personal capabilities.  Botany was never on my radar of potential hobbies before coming to the OBXFS, but nowadays I eagerly identify the same species from Buxton in other places. 

Our Frigid Friday on the Sound
The next adventure I wanted to highlight is our water lab. In this lab we aimed to hypothesize a relationship between water temp, PSI, DO, turbidity, and levels of Chlorophyll a. Originally we planned to take a boat on the sound and do our sampling aboard, but the weather was uncooperative. We opted to visit a few sites still, traveling by van instead. The first site was significantly easier than the rest because we took data from the familiar bulkhead at CSI. Oregon inlet was the second site that we sampled. Here we ran into a little hiccup, the pier we intended to conduct our sampling on was closed. Instead of packing up and pulling out of the parking lot, we adapted our plan to sample from the beach. You can see Jane on your right standing in the water with our YSI, taking parameter readings from 
a surface depth. Steve to the left is recording our lab activities on a GoPro for an OBXFS promotional video. I am a tall girl so I had the opportunity to take the YSI data at our max depth recorded in Oregon Inlet. It was empowering to face the turbulent sea in the name of science. From there we conducted our final sampling under the Baum Bridge and finally saw some emergent blue skies. Here we experimented with what I believe is called a Veredian Tube, a.k.a another state-of-the-art piece of equipment we borrowed from CSI. In the photo to the left Joseph is releasing the water captured in the coring device before we headed back to CSI. An interesting part about being at a field site is my exposure to so many unique research tools. I have a much greater appreciation and understanding for the papers I read for class after seeing some research methodology firsthand. Recognizing tools and techniques used by the published researchers is super encouraging. 

Full Friday of Fulfilling Activities.
Last Friday at the field site was dedicated to our ghost crab ecology lab. This Friday started off with a bright and early sunrise at Jennette’s Pier. We wanted to ensure the least disruption by tourists and beach drivers. We counted Ghost Crab holes in the sand and collected our findings on a data sheet with a specific numeric system to describe what we saw. The data we collect in this lab will contribute to a larger study on Ghost Crab population numbers conducted by colleagues of Lindsay’s who do research at CSI. When we were in the sand digging around for sand fleas and tossing hula hoops for science, I couldn’t help but feel like a little kid again. While at the beach we tested out a sand coring and sifting method to catch the sand fleas. This process is demonstrated by my classmates Keenan and Blakely in the photo on the right. To top off a terrific morning, we had a communing breakfast at Stack ‘em High. By the way, I was thoroughly impressed by their breakfast burrito.
After filling myself to the brim on hash browns, another classmate named Anna and I headed back to the pier to volunteer for one of our CAB members, Christin Brown. Christin is the director of education at the pier and invited us to fish with a group of students with exceptional needs from First Flight and Manteo Middle and High Schools. We had a blast and made so many new friends! After a few hours of fishing we made our way back to CSI and finished our plant identification process from our aforementioned vegetation sampling. The evening came to a close with a frightful trip to the Haunted Wanchese Woods.

OBXFS 21: My Favorite Experience

While there have been many unique experiences during this semester so far, I would definitely say that our long adventure day in Corolla was my favorite experience. This trip started like many others, a talkative van ride where we wondered what escapades we would encounter together. 

We started at the beautiful Audobon sanctuary, where we were shown around the property and introduced to the planned bird conservation projects. We then traveled to the wildlife center, where we learned the history of Duck and Corolla and the towns’ cultural origins through the museum and a movie.  

After we climbed a random tree waiting for our lunch to arrive, we climbed something you are supposed to, a lighthouse. A few of us ascended into the Currituck Lighthouse,

where we could see miles in every direction of the beautiful landscape that we would soon explore further. We could even see the long dock where we would later launch our kayaks into the water. 

During our kayak tour, I had the best kayak partner, Rebekah, who had just turned 22 the day before. While we undoubtedly would have beaten anybody in a race, we decided it was best if we just enjoyed the scenery and did not embarrass any challengers. Thankfully I didn’t get too dirty considering all the milfoil and wild celery we encountered; however, not all of us (Steve and Joseph) were that lucky.

My favorite part of the day was the bumpy and windy ride across the beach in the back of the wild horse tour truck. The best times of the field site are when everyone is together and able to talk about our unique and exciting experiences. This was actually the first time I encountered the wild horses, and I was surprised by how many we saw grazing in people’s front yards. We were able to get quite close to the horses, and Joseph came feet away from a charging stallion. While the details are fuzzy, let’s just say that that horse was lucky it decided to swerve away. 


After another spirited ride back, we quickly ate down our Corolla pizza, which I would say is better than most other towns’ pizza, except for Nags Head which still stays #1 for me. We were blessed by two dogs who smelled our delicious food and came over to greet us. We thanked them for their presence with a few of our crusts and attempted to teach them tricks.

I don’t remember much about the ride back, considering I fell asleep from the busy day we all just had; however, I’m sure the rest of the field group cheeringly looked back on the perfect day we just experienced. 

OBXFS 2021: Our Trip to Corolla!

After visiting so many amazing places and having so many different experiences with lots of great people since arriving here in the Outer banks, it’s hard picking just one occasion to write about! Since moving out here, pretty much every day has been full of some kind of adventure or just spending quality time with all the great people that I’ve met through the field site. Whether it be going on field trips with the whole class and becoming more familiar with different parts of the Outer Banks, or coming home after a long day of class and going to the beach, playing backyard volleyball, or even having a bonfire on the beach, there is never a dull moment. I’ve really come to love living at the beach and at one point it even felt like I was on vacation!

Despite having so many great experiences with the OBXFS, if I had to pick just one, I would say our class field trip to Corolla was probably my favorite experience so far. We started the day off going to the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary in Corolla which was about 60 acres of land located at the site of an old hunting club from 1913 located on the Sound which was later placed in conservation by the Audubon Society which is a non-profit environmental organization. Our guide was extremely kind and seemed very passionate about his job and the conservation of the land. He gave us a tour around the property and explained a little bit of its history as a historic hunting club, he also walked us around the property and pointed out different plants and wildlife and he also mentioned different ecological processes that are having an impact on the land. He took us to where the property met the Sound and he showed us the different methods that they are implementing on the property in order to offset some of the erosion that is occurring throughout the Sound. One of the methods they used was a living shoreline, which I believe has been giving them positive results but it is sadly super expensive to implement on a larger scale.

A Great Blue Heron spotted!

Next, we went to the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education which can also be found in Corolla. This place was like a museum that discussed the history of Corolla and Duck and how big the duck hunting culture used to be here back in the early 1900s. I thought the duck hunting history in the Outer Banks was extremely interesting and it was amazing to see the different tools and methods that hunters used in the past to hunt fowl such as the wooden decoy ducks that look so realistic, it is impressive how much detail went into some of them. Although the history of the hunt clubs throughout the Outer Banks was interesting, the Center for Wildlife Education also made sure to discuss the impact that this large-scale hunting had on the environment and how it was an example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Sadly, the Sound and many animal species have yet to fully recover.

Next, my favorite part of the whole day! Kayaking! I’ve been looking forward to kayaking in the Sound since before even moving to the Outer Banks so I was definitely excited for our paddling trip. We met with our guide, Liam, and he gave us a quick kayaking lesson and then he took us out into the Currituck Sound. I had a little bit of kayaking experience so I was feeling confident in me and my partner Steve’s skills, but some of the characteristics of the Currituck Sound made it a challenge. The Currituck Sound has low levels of salinity, it is very shallow, and there is SAV (Submerged Aquatic Vegetation) literally everywhere! I will admit, Steve and I got stuck in the patches of SAV a few times! Every time we tried to paddle we would end up throwing SAV all in the kayak and all over each other. Somehow, Steve and I finished the tour being literally the only ones completely soaked and covered in SAV! Regardless, everyone had a great time and we got to enjoy some great views of the Sound!

Steve and I kayaking!

To end an already action-packed day, we got to go on a wild horse tour in search of the wild horses that live on the beaches of Corolla. We hopped into the back of a truck and strapped ourselves in for a bumpy ride on the beach. Our guide drove us up the beautiful beaches of Corolla as we all laughed and held on for dear life all while trying not to lose our hats! Corollas’ beaches were unlike most beaches I’ve ever been to and I definitely recommend anyone to go visit them. As we drove around in search of wild horses, we finally found a few and we admired them from a safe distance. It was amazing to see the wild horses casually walking through people’s front yards like a neighborhood stray dog! Although the wild horses are beautiful, keep your distance! A wild horse is not the animal you want to find yourself face to face with. Trust me!