North Carolina's coast hosts a variety of wildlife on land and in the sea. Many of the animals that now have abundant populations were once members of species whose existence was threatened. Due to the establishment of sanctuaries by the Audubon Society of North Carolina and the work of game wardens, threats have been reduced. The result is a state endowed with some of the finest wildlife viewing and bird-watching opportunities in the country, says the Coastal Guide.
A coastal North Carolina animal that was once endangered is the American alligator. You can observe these reptiles, which are related to both dinosaurs and birds, basking in the sun along the banks of various water bodies. If warm enough, they will have their mouths open to help cool themselves. North Carolina is as far north as they live.
Loggerhead turtles are the most abundant species of sea turtle found in U.S. coastal waters, according to the Office of Protected Resources, and North Carolina is one of the places that they call home. Named because of their large heads, adult loggerhead turtles can weigh as much as 250 pounds. Their largest nesting site is on Bald Head Island.
North Carolina's state reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle, is often spotted at Hammocks Beach State Park. It is only one of two species of box turtles found in the US and it is the only land turtle found in North Carolina, according to Biology at Davidson. Since they are versatile animals, they may be found in swamps or in fields.
Other turtles that live along the coast include the Eastern Snapping Turtle and the Yellow-bellied Slider.
Reptile lovers can find a variety of snakes in North Carolina. Included among them is the copperhead, a snake with a bite that is both powerful and dangerous. If you want to see these creatures, you should know that they hibernate underground from October until about early March. Other snakes that are found slithering along the coast include the yellow rat snake, the northern rough green snake and the corn snake.
If you travel to the lower Cape Fear River area, you will have the opportunity to see herons, ibises, and egrets. Spread throughout the 19 islands that are protected by the Audubon Society of North Carolina, bird-watchers can also observe pelicans, tern and black skimmers.
The coastal waters of North Carolina also contain a variety of animal life, including dolphins and flying fish. Other visitors prefer to sink a hook and line for a chance to catch fish such as porgies, sea bass and blues.
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