Saturday, November 5, 2016

Horses of Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout NS, NC

North Carolinas aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores deserves a good look around if you are in the area.  We found it to have all the elements of some larger aquariums we have been to, including an outdoor viewing area of the marshes, but without the crowds.  In fact, it may have had more just on a bit smaller scale.  The aquarium takes you through displays of fresh water to brackish water to salt water fish and other inhabitants.  We throughly enjoyed it:

Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, NC

beautiful crystal clear water displays

outdoor viewing area and nature trail

glass art work of stingrays

loved this display;)

live divers do an informative show in a 365,000 gal tank with a replica of a local wreck in the tank with the sharks, groupers and other large fish!
 We drove to the nearby Cape Lookout National Seashore to take yet another ferry over to Shackleford Banks, the southern-most barrier island on the Seashore.  The intent was to hopefully see some of the approx 115 wild horses that have been living free on the island for centuries.  The Shackleford herd are descendants of Spanish horses.  Other than the park service keeping track of the horse population, these horses are truly free.  Neither fed nor watered, they rely on island grass and sea oats with fresh water in various ponds along the length of the 9 mile island.

Because the island is 9 miles long x 1 mile wide and the ferry drops you off at one end, there is no guarantee you will see horses as the island is mostly sand dunes:

Our "ferry" out to the island was this skiff as there were only about 8 of us heading out on the first boat.

heading out to hike and hopefully come across some of the herd

Mike and I split up a bit to cover more territory

Yay, horse sighting!!!

A group of 3 mares, very thrilling!  They all look fat or pregnant because of the high salt content grasses they consume

I thought they were beautiful

a mare greets another mare

on the left a stallion ran into the area suddenly to check on his ladies.  It was so cool to hear and watch them communicate.

On the way back we had a bit larger ride come for us:)
 We were very happy to have this great experience!  What  a thrill!

on the ride back, fishermen line the shore in the water with waders on

we stopped for beer and late lunch at the Ruddy Duck:)

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