About the Crystal Coast
The Crystal Coast is comprised of the Bogue Sound, Back Sound, Core Sound, Newport River, North River, and the coastal waters of the Atlantic.
The Crystal Coast provides habitat to a breadth of unique plants and animals. Shackleford Banks is famously is home to one of the last remaining populations of wild horses on the East Coast. In warmer months, several species of endangered or threatened sea turtles crawl to shores of Bogue Banks to complete nesting journeys predestined from birth. The critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, of which there are approximately 400 left, makes use of the temperate waters in migration patterns. The Crystal Skipper butterfly is found nowhere else in the world besides on islands of the Crystal Coast.
Throughout the region, pristine estuary habitats are teeming with life, vital to protecting biodiversity and serving as nurseries for fish and other wildlife. The rolling beds of plant life act as carbon sinks. Like rain forests, these ecosystems are incredibly productive in counteracting climate change.
More than 80,000 acres of the Croatan Forest are shared between the White Oak-New River basin and the Crystal Coast. The Forest hosts the largest population of carnivorous plants out of any National Forest and provides habitat for Long Leaf Pines, which the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker depends on.
The watersheds that make up the Crystal Coast are comprised of many small, very old towns and cities, historic sites, prime recreation areas, resorts, and miles of protected parks and beaches. Areas include Newport, Morehead City, Beaufort, Bogue Banks, Down East, and Cape Lookout National Seashore.
The Crystal Coast is a fishing paradise where both recreational and commercial industries thrive, many carry generational traditions into a modern era of fishing. It is a prime tourist destination for swimmers, shell collectors, surfers, seafood enthusiasts and more. The booming tourism industry supports almost every local business in some way. Children from all over the globe visit to learn about the unique ecosystems, sparking a love of nature and a sense of stewardship.
The rich heritage and history of the watersheds, along with the allure of recreation and the easy living associated with coastal North Carolina, make these areas a magnet for people. Much of the population are newer transplants, choosing the area because of its pristine environment, and many families have lived here for generations. The Crystal Coast has a long cultural history of lighthouse keepers, fishers, whalers, pirates, rescuers. These legacies and inspiring tales of the human condition remain steadfast in our coastal heritage.
The quest for the very things that the sounds and the ocean have to offer also becomes problematic for the fragile ecosystems of the Crystal Coast. More people, more development, more strain on the water systems, more pollution all come together to create a perfect storm of potentially harmful impacts on these waters and our way of life.