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The Museum of Coastal Carolina’s Katherine Hunt presents a program for families called “Oysters are Important” March 25 at 11 am. Families will learn fascinating facts about the life cycle of oysters, how pearls are created, and why oysters are critically important to the water quality along the coast. Immediately after the educational program, she will lead attendees in making an oyster to explore one’s environment. There will also be useful handouts concerning the purchase of oysters and other shell fish as well as a take home activity. Hunt is a science educator who has lived in the Carolinas most of her life, now an Education Outreach Coordinator of the Museum of Coastal Carolina and Ingram Planetarium. Oysters have been a big part of her life since she went digging for them for the first time as a girl with her grandfather in Kure Beach, NC. The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street in Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Consider becoming a museum member; admission is free for members. Non-member admission is $9.50 adults, $8.50 seniors (62+), $7.50 children (3-12), and free for age 2 and under. Questions? Call the museum at 910-579-1016 or visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org
The Museum of Coastal Carolina will feature a presentation by Katherine Hunt, education outreach coordinator, about manatee sightings in the Carolinas. The event will be March 18 at 11 am. Manatees are amazing sea animals that have been spotted off of the NC coast. The animals swim through open ocean, the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, sounds and bays, rivers and creeks and marinas to graze on sea grass in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Families will learn about this unique mammal that does not typically migrate to our shores. The program is included with general admission to the museum. The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Admission to the museum is free for members. Non-member all-day admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $7.50 for children (3-12), and free for age 2 and under. For more information about the Museum of Coastal Carolina, call 910-579-1016 or visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org.
The Museum of Coastal Carolina will have a program March 4 at 11 am featuring the endangered right whale. Right whales are the rarest of all large whales. There are several species, but all are identified by enormous heads, which can measure up to one-third of their total body length. Right whales are endangered and have enjoyed complete international protection since 1949. Several thousand southern right whales are believed to survive, and they have shown some encouraging population growth since their protection. However, scientists believe that there are fewer than 500 Atlantic right whales along the eastern coastline. Allison Smith, a volunteer at the museum and owner of OIB Ghost Walk, will be presenting this program. The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Admission to the museum is free for members. Non-member all-day admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $7.50 for children (3-12), and free for age 2 and under. For more information about the Museum of Coastal Carolina, call 910-579-1016 or visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org.
A piebald deer will be on display in the Green Swamp Diorama February 4, 2017 at 11:00 am. Learn more about this unusual, native animal. Guests will also be introduced to the variety of animals found in our own back yard. A piebald animal is one that has irregular patterns of light and dark. Animals with piebald patterns may include horses, dogs, birds, cats, pigs, cattle, snakes, squirrels, and deer. The piebald condition is caused by a recessive genetic trait. This piebald deer is estimated to be between two and three years old and has had at least one fawn. White-tailed deer mate in November; females produce one to three fawns six months later. White-tailed deer live in wooded areas throughout the United States except for the Southwest, Alaska, and Hawaii. Overpopulation, habitat destruction, hunting, and predators are problems for this gentle animal. White-tailed deer are herbivores. When deer and humans live in close proximity, deer may begin munching on garden and yard plants. The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street in Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Admission is free for Museum members. Non-member admission (including NC sales tax) is $9.50 for adults (13-61), $8.50 for seniors (62+), $7.50 for children (3-12), and free for age 2 and under. For more information, call 910-575-1016 or visit www.museumplanetarium.org.
The eastern box turtle, scientifically named Terrapene Carolina Carolina, is known for having patterned yellow, orange, or red streaks. These turtles are also known for their strong homing instincts and their direction. If you rescue one crossing a road, take it to the side in the direction is was going. It knows where it wants to go! Visit the Museum of Coastal Carolina January 21 at 11 AM for this exciting program! The Museum of Coastal Carolina is located at 21 East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Admission to the museum is free for members. Non-member all-day admission is $9.50 for adults, $8.50 for seniors, $7.50 for children (3-12), and free for age 2 and under. For more information about the Museum of Coastal Carolina, call 910-579-1016 or visit www.MuseumPlanetarium.org.
By Dave Stahle, Katie Wolfe, and Dan Griffin NOTE: University of Arkansas Professor Dave Stahle identified the oldest trees east of the Rockies on North Carolina’s Black River in 1985. He recently revisited the area and wrote this article as a result. The oldest baldcypress trees ever found are located on the Black River in Pender and Bladen Counties. Tree-ring dating, or dendrochronology, has been used to prove that some of those old baldcypress are over 1,500 years old. A few may be over 2,000 years old, but this will be difficult to prove because many of the oldest trees suffer some degree of heart rot. Nevertheless, only a handful of tree species worldwide have been proven to live for more than 1,500 years. The exceptional age of the Black River baldcypress trees has been known since 1985 when we first extracted small core samples from some of the old trees (core sampling does not seriously harm these ancient cypress). Microscopic analysis of the annual growth rings proved their great age and measurements of the dated growth rings have been used to develop a chronology of growing season rainfall for North Carolina dating back to A.D. 372. We visited the Black River three times in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but did not appreciate the full extent of the old-growth baldcypress forests along the Black River or their significance to the conservation of this remarkable stream. We returned to the Black River last June and got a much better impression of the true size and significance of these ancient cypress wetlands. It has been 20 years since our last visit and we were amazed to see so many super ancient cypress along the river. In many areas along the Black it is possible to turn in a circle and see 10 to 20 baldcypress trees over 1,000 years old. This density of millennium-old trees is rare in any forest worldwide. Although a dozen or so species can live for more than 1,500 years, most of these old growth stands have very few individual trees in the oldest age class. Not at the Black River. There are literally hundreds of millennium-old trees at the Black River, which has the largest concentration of ancient baldcypress trees we have ever found after 30 years of searching in the southeastern United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. Ancient baldcypress stands can still be found along other streams in the Southeast, but not quite as impressively as on the Black River. These remaining ancient cypress stands do not necessarily include huge trees with valuable timber. Their “decrepit over-mature” condition, the result of recurrent drought and gale over the centuries, reduced their value for saw timber. During our June field trip we also visited a fine tract of ancient cypress trees on the Little Pee Dee River, South Carolina, with Dr. Maria Whitehead who is heading a Nature Conservancy conservation effort in the Winyah Bay and Pee Dee River Basin. It will be a big job, but these ancient cypress forest remnants ought to be systematically mapped throughout the Southeast. Knowing where these ancient forest parcels are located is the obvious first step in their conservation. Where possible they ought to be conserved for their beauty, biodiversity, and scientific value. They are among the last pristine examples of the pre-settlement environment in the Carolinas. We had not realized how large the area of ancient cypress forest actually is along the Black River. During previous trips we had only surveyed about 300 acres, but The Nature Conservancy has helped to conserve over 11,000 acres along the Black River, and much of it includes remarkably old trees. The Black River retains some of the highest surface water quality in the state of North Carolina and has been named an outstanding water resource by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. We were gratified to learn that our research on the ancient baldcypress trees was helpful in raising awareness and interest in the conservation of these irreplaceable natural resources. But the highlight of our trip was the visit to the ancient cypress wetlands of the Black River, certainly one of the greatest natural areas left in the southern United States. It was hot and the river was low. The stream is choked with sand in the Three Sisters area, where the oldest identified trees have been found. It braids into several channels of whiskey-colored water flowing over white sands and among the gigantic baldcypress trees. A colony of wood storks has recently moved into the forest, reclaiming habitat lost during their near extinction. If these ancient forested wetlands can continue to be protected then we are certain that these efforts will be appreciated by future generations.