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!