OBX: Through the Lens

I got an opportunity to do something I love this semester. Observing, learning, creating, travelling (as much as COVID restrictions allow anyways). I met new people, listened to their stories, and discovered so much more of the Outer Banks than I would have on my own. Why did I have access to these experiences? Well, I photographed them, as a photojournalism intern with the Coastal Studies Institute’s (CSI’s) outreach department. I worked with John McCord, the outreach director, and tag-teamed a lot of my projects with another intern, Lauren Colonair. She wrote stories, I took photos for them. Lauren and I got to go on road trips, talk to researchers at CSI, and have access to an incredible amount of camera and recording equipment. Our two final projects, videos on the 2020 Outer Banks Field Site (OBXFS) and the capstone research project, are available on the CSI YouTube channel.

I also worked on projects individually. The Coastal Landscape Initiative (CLI) is a program that promotes use of native plants in landscaping on the Outer Banks. Native plants are more environmentally friendly as they are already adapted to the environment and require less pesticides and care. CSI has beautifully landscaped gardens filled with native plants. 

Many days, I would go around sunrise to photograph the flowers, insects, and plants. I enjoyed working on this project because I love spending time outside and observing nature. I can now identify a lot of the plants I see around campus and the Outer Banks. Here are a few photos I made:









My favorite part of my internship were the two personal photo projects I completed on wildlife and water. I got to work on these on my own time; they forced me to leave my room and explore the Outer Banks and stretch my creativity. I would work on these projects whenever I needed a break from class or capstone work. Usually around sunrise or sunset I would go find a new place to check out, and spend some time observing and practicing my patience before taking photos. I spent a lot of time trying to represent my subjects in unique ways. 

Bioluminescence at Coquina Beach

My internship was a great experience. It helped improve my photography and videography skills and taught me more about what I want for my future. The semester is coming to a close, but everything I learned from my internship and classes will follow me. I’m grateful for this opportunity and that I got to do something I love. Sending a huge thank you to everyone at CSI who helped make the 2020 OBX Field Site a great experience.

                                                                                                      – Heidi Hannoush, Class of 2023

Early Rising

Good morning! It’s 5 am, my favorite time of day. I can do anything I want in the morning – right now I’m writing this blog post (I’ll probably post it later though). At sunrise, I’m going to head over to the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) to take some photos of plants for the Coastal Landscape Initiative, but right now I’ll let you know what we’ve been up to.

My early mornings are usually spent alone, but these past two weeks I’ve had the rare opportunity of spending time with people before 10 am (which is like my late afternoon). I’ll start with Friday, Sept. 18th; the plan was to get SOAKED. It was a storm sampling day for our capstone research, and we had to get data on rain’s effect on water quality. Emma, Caroline, and I headed out at 9 am for our second day of fieldwork. We had so much fun bailing water out of the wells. Of course, not everything was perfect – the rain stopped for us and we didn’t even get to get wet. But, we still got our storm-day data! Afterwards, we brought our samples back to CSI to be prepared for coliform and E. coli readings, which I got to do with Bri and Lauren the next day!

Sampling Supply Box. Always be prepared.
Vista Colony Well after Storm Water Sampling










This week, on Wednesday Sept. 23rd, Lauren and I started our days at around 4 in the morning. We had a three-hour drive to Morehead City to shadow a grad student’s research. For our internships, Lauren was writing an article on the project (which you can check out at CSI’s website) and I got to take photos. We had a blast on that trip from our conversations, to fish tagging, to wild horses. I’m not going to talk too much about it here because Lauren’s article isn’t out yet, but here are some sneak-peak photos.

Lauren releasing a sheepshead fish after tagging.
Wild horse near Cedar Island, NC.

And finally, this Friday, Sept. 26th, our whole class got to wake up early to meet in the town of Duck at 8:30 am. Duck is about an hour from where we’re staying. We met with CAB member Matt Price who talked a little about shoreline protection/living shorelines in Duck as well as the septic system they use. Then we drove to Corolla for kayaking/stand-up paddle boarding, a meeting with Hadley Twiddy about ecotourism, and a meeting with the wonderful Sharon Meade about wildlife and hunting history on Corolla. My favorite part of that day was an eastern box turtle we saw along the side of the road.

Eastern Box Turtle
Eastern Box Turtle

Anyways, I know this blog post is a bit rambling. My point is the best days are the ones I start early. I have so many more stories from shipwrecks to shark eggs! I’d encourage you to watch the sunrise at least once a week – I’m going to go watch it now. Thanks for hanging out with me for a while, Heidi signing off. Carpe diem.