Fort Fisher in February – 2 years ago, today

Outcroppings at low tide, Fort Fisher, just north of the rock revetment. Check out the rainbow...
Outcroppings at low tide, Fort Fisher, just north of the rock revetment. Check out the rainbow…
A closer look...
A closer look…

As the crow flies, Fort Fisher is about 25 miles south of our place, and at low tide, it reveals an amazing and unusual natural feature.  The hard-bottom habitat emerging from sand at the south end of Kure Beach, often referred to as ‘Cape Fear Coquina’  or the Neuse Formation, is part of a system of sandstone and mudstone ridges that make up the nearshore edge of the Gulf Stream. (1)

Fresh(?) water running southeast from rock to waves...
Fresh(?) water running southeast from rock to waves…
Sea Lettuce, Ulva sp., and unidentified red (or brown?!) algae.
Sea Lettuce, Ulva sp., and unidentified red (or brown?!) algae.

A rushing stream that carves its way towards the retreating tide is fresh(ish) water, emerging from a portion of the  Castle Hayne aquifer that reaches the surface. Flattened ledges are covered in various algaes, including Sea Hair / Enteromorpha spp., Sea Lettuce / Ulva spp., and, at noticeably lower elevations, a pinkish red seaweed we couldn’t identify.  Shorebirds were having a field day (har!) , as were a few Forbes Sea Stars and Calico Crabs.

1. Frankenberg, Dirk. The Nature of North Carolina’s Southern Coast: Barrier Islands, Coastal Waters, and Wetlands. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1997. Print.

Forbes Sea Star, Asterias forbesii - the orange spot is its madreporite, where water is brought into the vascular system.
Forbes Sea Star, Asterias forbesii – the orange spot is its madreporite, where water is brought into the vascular system.
Calico Box Crab, Ovalipes ocillatus. A nocturnal predator - didn't pinch when handled...
Calico Box Crab, Ovalipes ocillatus. A nocturnal predator – didn’t pinch when handled…
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