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Fast Facts

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The Estuary

The Estuary

  • There are 9,115 miles of total estuarine shoreline in the Albemarle-Pamlico region. 8,136 miles are unmodified natural shorelines based on 2006-2010 shoreline data.1,2
  • Carteret County has 1,738 miles of estuarine shoreline, the longest in the Albemarle-Pamlico region. Currituck and Dare County are also medalists, with 1,106 and 969 miles respectively. 1,2
  • With more than 3,000 square miles of open water, the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary is the second largest estuarine complex in the lower 48 states.7
  • North Carolina has greater acreage of submerged aquatic vegetation than any state on the Atlantic coast except Florida, and 99% of that acreage is in the Albemarle-Pamlico embayment. In APNEP's latest survey (2006-2008) 138,000 acres were visible from the air, and nearly 200,000 acres are estimated to exist.13,14
  • The Albemarle-Pamlico estuary includes eight major sounds – Albemarle, Pamlico, Back, Bogue, Core, Croatan, Currituck, and Roanoke. 3
      The Watershed

      The Watershed

      • The area of the Albemarle-Pamlico Basin is 31,478 square miles. The APNEP management region is 23,803 square miles (76% of total basin), which excludes parts of the Roanoke and White Oak basins, and is the largest unit in the National Estuary Program.3
      • Lake Mattamuskeet is the largest natural lake in North Carolina at 40,000 acres. Nearby Lake Phelps is the second largest at 16,600 acres.5,6
      • There are approximately 4.8 million acres of farmland in the APNEP region (32% of total management region).8,9
      • There are 1.4 million acres of land under conservation management in the APNEP region (9% of total management region).10
      • There are approximately 2.8 million acres of wetlands in the Albemarle-Pamlico Basin according to 2006 data, down 130,000 acres since 1992.15
      • 16,000 farms covering 4.8 million acres are in the Albemarle-Pamlico region.8,9
          Rivers and Streams

          Rivers and Streams

          • There are 9,299 miles of freshwater rivers and streams in the Albemarle-Pamlico estuarine ecosystem.4
          • The Roanoke River floodplain contains the largest and least-disturbed bottomland forest ecosystem in the eastern slope of North America, and the Albemarle-Pamlico region includes the greatest extent of pocosin wetlands in the world. 11,12
          • Six river basins flow in to the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary: Chowan, Roanoke, Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Pasquotank and White Oak. 16
          • Water from 43 NC counties and 38 VA county and cities drain into the Albemarle-Pamlico estuaries. 3
          • The human population within in the Albemarle-Pamlico basin in 2010 was 3.9 million with 2.9 million (74%) living in North Carolina and 1 million (26%) living in Virginia. The most populous river basin in the watershed is the Neuse.1
                Flora and Fauna

                Flora and Fauna

                • Half of the juvenile fish habitat from Maine to Florida is represented by the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary.26
                • About 90% of the United States' recreational fisheries catch and 75% of its commercial catch spend time in estuaries. 27
                • The Albemarle-Pamlico estuary is among the few places where Atlantic sturgeon continue to produce young on an annual basis.28
                • The Albemarle Sound was the epicenter of the once-prolific, and potentially restorable, herring fishery.29
                • As a result of captive breeding programs, the red wolf (Canis lupus rufus) was reintroduced to the Albemarle Peninsula. It is the only place in the world where red wolves can be seen in the wild.30
                • More than 220 bird species can be found in the Roanoke floodplain.12
                • North Carolina issued 22,533 commercial fishing licenses in 2013.32
                • A recent study found 897 obstacles to fish migration in the Chowan basin alone. Dams prevent fish from swimming upstream to mating areas, but restoration efforts can help.33
                • The West Indian Manatee is seen occasionally in NC estuaries from June to October.34, 35
                • The endangered Tar River spinymussel is only found in small sections of the Tar River basin.37
                • Fish need about 5 parts per million of dissolved oxygen to thrive in aquatic environments.40
                • Aquatic plant species are important because they release oxygen into the marine ecosystem.41
                • Overgrowth of algae can cause anoxia - lack of oxygen in water - which can lead to fish kills.42 
                • Non-native Phragmites australis, an invasive grass, is a problematic and aggressive species in the region. In 2010, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge reported 7,567 acres.15
                • Endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers are found in all basins of the Albemarle-Pamlico region.43
                • The Croatan National Forest has the largest population of carnivorous plants of any National Forest.19
                Economy

                Economy

                • Recreational fisheries in 2008 had a $1.6 billion impact on North Carolina's economy.45
                • Saltwater fishing in 2010 created over 17,000 NC jobs.45
                • Commercial fisheries in 2012 had a $116 million impact on North Carolina's economy.46
                • The estimated economic impact of seafood dealers on North Carolina’s economy in 2009 was $255 million.47
                • The economic impact of tourism in 2012 by the Albemarle-Pamlico’s four oceanside counties—Dare, Carteret, Currituck and Hyde—exceeded $1.37 billion.48
                • The Intracoastal Waterway is critical for shipping products across state lines. The ICW traverses the Albemarle-Pamlico Sounds for 214 miles.49
                • The 2012 total market value of products sold from farmland in the Albemarle-Pamlico region was $4.88 billion.8,9
                • Beaufort has the highest value of delivered timber in North Carolina's portion of the Albemarle-Pamlico region. 44
                History

                History

                • ​​​​​The Cape Hatteras lighthouse in 1999 was moved 2,900 feet to prevent damage by the Atlantic Ocean.50
                • The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary was named an estuary of national significance by Congress in 1987.3
                • The National Estuary Program began in 1987, with APNEP as a charter member.51
                • The first English settlement in America was on Roanoke Island in 1584.52
                • George Washington himself formed the company whose laborers drained the Great Dismal Swamp in 1763.53
                • Pocosin is the Algonquin Native American word for “swamp on a hill".54
                • Estuaries are among the earth's most productive habitats, but are increasingly affected by impacts of human population growth on our coasts.55
                • Tropical cyclones having passed within 150 miles of Swan Quarter, NC since 1950: 235.15
                Citations

                Citations

                1 (2012, June 19). Download spatial data; maps (oceanfront). Retrieved from North Carolina Division of Coastal Management website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/cm/download-spatial-data-maps-oceanfront

                2 McVerry, K., & N.C. Division of Coastal Management. (n.d.). Estuarine shoreline metadata. Retrieved from The Apache Software Foundation website: http://ims.ncdenr.org/Website/ncshore/MetaData/metadata_estuarine_shorel...

                3 (n.d.). The Albemarle-Pamlico estuary. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/our-estuaries

                4 (APNEP) Galbreath, G., Wright-Creech, S., Bryan Moore, L., & Clark, A. H. (2003). Introduction. In Albemarle-Pamlico citizens water quality monitoring manual (pp. 9-11). N.C. Division Of Marine Fisheries. Retrieved from http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=662a9f45-2779-...

                5 (2008). Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.fws.gov/southeast/pubs/mtktear.pdf

                6 Pettigrew State Park - History. (n.d.).N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/pett/history.php

                7 Giordano, J., & Holloman, J. (2001). Taking control of nonpoint source pollution. Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary Program, 1-4. Retrieved from the United States Environmental Protection Agency website: http://tinyurl.com/oop4lwg

                8 (n.d.). 2012 North Carolina census publications. Retrieved from USDA Census of Agriculture website: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/County_P...

                9 (n.d.). 2012 Virginia census publications. Retrieved from USDA Census of Agriculture website: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2012/Online_Resources/County_P...

                10 Layers produced by Lindsey Smart and APNEP using ESRI's ArcGIS 10.1: (ap_NCED.shp, apnep_mgmt_boundary.shp, and ap_padUS.shp).

                11 Roanoke River Basin, 458-468. Retrieved from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website: http://www.ncwildlife.org/portals/0/Conserving/documents/NCRiverBasins/R...

                12 (2013). The Roanoke River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/roanoke

                13 (n.d.). Submerged aquatic vegetation. Retrieved from North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/66

                14 (2009). Habitat mapping and monitoring. Retrieved from North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=232146eb-2dbc-...

                15 Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (2012). Albemarle-Pamlico Ecosystem Assessment. Columbia, NC: APNEP.

                16 (n.d.). APNEP's river basins. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/basinsandrivers

                17 Brown, I., Burgess, C., Schott, K., McGaw, M., Taylor, K., Hamrick, D. , & Ellis, H. (2013). Discover North Carolina's river basins. 1-16. Retrieved from http://www.eenorthcarolina.org/images/River%20Basin%20Images/final_web_b...

                18 Layers used with ESRI's ArcGIS software: (World Street Map by ESRI, APNEP_program_boundary.shp, and Counties_denr_ro.shp).

                19 (2013). The White Oak River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/white-oak

                20 (2013). The Neuse River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/neuse

                21 (2013). The Tar-Pamlico River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/tar-pamlico

                22 (2013). The Chowan River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/chowannc

                23 (2013). The Pasquotank River Basin. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/pasquotank

                24 (2014). Black River preserve. Retrieved from The Nature Conservancy website: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/n...

                25 (2014, April 16). Estuaries and coastal watersheds. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds website: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/index.cfm

                26 Burkholder, J., Eggleston, D., Glasgow, H., Brownie, C., Reed, R., Janowitz, G., . . . (2004). Comparative impacts of two major hurricane seasons on the Neuse River and western Pamlico Sound ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101(25), 1-6. Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/101/25/9291.full.pdf

                27  Wetland functions and values. United States Environmental Protection Agency Distance Learning Modules on Watershed Management, 11. Retrieved from http://cfpub.epa.gov/watertrain/pdf/modules/WetlandsFunctions.pdf

                28  Ashley, K., Wynne, B., Newman, J., Raver, D., Cros, C., & Osborne, C. Atlantic Sturgeon. North Carolina Wildlife Profiles, 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.ncwildlife.org/portals/0/learning/documents/atlsturg1.pdf

                29 Hightower, J. E., Wicker, A. M., & Endures, K. M. (1996). Historical trends in abundance of American shad and river herring in Albemarle Sound, North Carolina. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 16, 257-271. Retrieved from http://www.fws.gov/raleigh/pdfs/sis/historicaltrendsinabundanceofasandrh...

                30 (2014, March 25). Red Wolf recovery efforts. Retrieved from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Red Wolf Recovery Program website:http://www.fws.gov/redwolf/redwolfrecovery.html

                31 Striper, J. N., McCargo, J., Cross, C., Osborne, C., Raver, D., McCargo, J. Striped bass. North Carolina Wildlife Profiles, 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.ncwildlife.org/portals/0/Fishing/documents/Striped_Bass.pdf

                32 Anderson, K., Anglemyer, J., Basnight, R., Bianchi, A., Bordeaux-Nixon, A., Branch, A., . . . Zuaboni, J. (2013). North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries License and Statistics Section. Retrieved from http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=c1d854cf-7bf6-...

                33 Carpenter, D., Brinn, L., Colchero, F., . . . Weaver, J. (2010). An improved model to identify and prioritize the preservation and restoration of river herring habitat. In M. Doll, R. Ferrell & S. Pearsall (Eds.), River herring habitats: Searching the Chowan River Basin (pp. 54-55). Environmental Defense Fund.

                34 Rabon, D. (2003, October 22). West Indian manatees in North Carolina. Retrieved from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website: http://www.fws.gov/nc-es/mammal/manatee.html

                35 (2003). Guidelines for avoiding impacts to the West Indian manatee precautionary measures for construction activities in North Carolina waters. United States Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service, 1-4. Retrieved from http://www.fws.gov/raleigh/pdfs/manatee_guidelines.pdf

                36 (2014, June 2). Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum). Retrieved from NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources website: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/shortnosesturgeon.htm

                37 McRae, S. (2012, November 1). Tar River Spinymussel (Elliptio steinstansana). Retrieved from Raleigh Ecological Service Field Office website: http://www.fws.gov/raleigh/species/es_tar_spinymussel.html

                38 (2011, June 16). What is an anadromous fish? A catadromous fish? Retrieved from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Fish FAQ website: http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/faq/fishfaq1a.html

                39  (2013, March 12). Anadromous or catadromous? Retrieved from Gulf of Maine Research Institute website: http://www.gma.org/tidings/anacata.html

                40 (2014). Pond management: Habitat. Retrieved from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/pondmanagement/habitat.asp

                41 (2008, March 25). Dissolved oxygen. Retrieved from NOAA Ocean Service Education website: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/estuaries/media/supp_estuar1...

                42 (2014, January 23). What is a dead zone? Retrieved from National Ocean Service; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association website: http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/deadzone.html

                43 (2014, June 16). Red-cockaded woodpecker (picoides borealis). Retrieved from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Species Profile website: http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=...

                44 Jeuck, J., & Bardon, R. (2014). Income of North Carolina timber harvested and delivered to mills. 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/forestry/resources/documents/incomesummary2013.pdf

                45 Crosson, S. (2010). A social and economic survey of recreational saltwater anglers in North Carolina. Retrieved fromhttp://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=b7469160-d5e9-...

                46 McInerny, S., & Hadley, J. (2014). An economic profile analysis of coastal commercial fishing counties in North Carolina. Retrieved from http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=b13dbf57-2c73-...

                47 Hadley, J., & Crosson, S. (2010). A business and economic profile of seafood dealers in North Carolina. 7-8. Retrieved from http://www.ncfisheries.net

                48 (2014). Travel economic impact model. Retrieved from N.C. Department of Commerce Tourism website: http://www.nccommerce.com/tourism/research/economic-impact/teim

                49 (2012). National Transportation Atlas Database. Retrieved from United States Department of Transportation website:http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/na...

                50 (2014, May 24). Moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Retrieved from National Park Service: Cape Hatteras National Seashore North Carolina website: http://www.nps.gov/caha/historyculture/movingthelighthouse.htm

                51(n.d.). The Albemarle-Pamlico Estuary. Retrieved from Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership website: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/about

                52 (n.d.). Carney, R. (n.d.). Roanoke Island. Retrieved from North Carolina History Project website: http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/commentary/25/entry

                53 Shaeffer, M. (n.d.). Dismal Swamp Canal. Retrieved from North Carolina History Project website: http://www.northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/902/entry

                54 (2013, September 25). Bogs. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency website: http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/bog.cfm

                55 (2012, March 6). Basic information about estuaries. Retrieved from United States Environmental Protection Agency Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds website: http://water.epa.gov/type/oceb/nep/about.cfm#whatis