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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership - Marsh Madness

Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership

 Marsh Madness

 Vote here, then follow APNEP on Facebook and Twitter to catch the tournament!

 

Download your bracket

Which species best represents the sounds? 

 

Congratulations to the bald cypress tree for being voted the most iconic species of North Carolina's sounds! The middle of the APNEP logo features a bald cypress tree so we could not agree more. Here are some reasons why the bald cypress tree is a great species to represent the Albemarle-Pamlico region:

Bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers meaning they drop their leaves in the winter, hence the name bald. In the 18th century, bald cypress trees were hollowed and used to make canoes. Cores from these old trees have also been used to study NC's climate history. 

Bald cypress trees are a resilient species that received help spreading their seed from the Carolina parakeet until the decline of the bird in the early 1900s. The bird was unique in that it had a beak strong enough to break open the hard, woody fruit of the cypress tree. 

Bald cypress trees can reach 120 feet in height. Spanish moss is often found hanging from its branches, which provides a feast for yellow-throated warblers to dine upon.

Bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) are an iconic feature around the Albemarle Sound. Buttressed bases and cypress knees provide support on water-logged soils allowing these trees to withstand high winds and even hurricanes. A grove of bald cypress trees more than 800 years old can be found in the region.

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Championship

Blue crabs and bald cypress trees have defeated 14 other sound species to make it  the Marsh Madness championship! Beautiful swimmer vs. mighty ancient tree, which is more iconic of the Albemarle-Pamlico sound?

 

 

Estuaries are essential to the life cycle of the blue crab. Female crabs migrate to salty waters to lay their eggs. The larvae develop in the ocean off the continental shelf and come back to land in the last larval stage. When they smell estuaries, it induces them to molt to the next stage.

 

Bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers meaning they drop their leaves in the winter, hence the name bald. In the 18th century, bald cypress trees were hollowed and used to make canoes. Cores from these old trees have also been used to study NC's climate history. 

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
36% 8
a. Blue crab
64% 14
b. Bald cypress

Total Votes: 22

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/10/15 2:00 PM..

Final Four

Did you know blue crabs live in Lake Mattamuskeet? A researcher at Duke University Marine Lab tags these crabs in order to study their movements and behavioral ecology. Check out this lesson plan to learn more about the importance of blue crabs to whooping cranes. 

 

Diamondback terrapins live in salt marshes, tidal creeks, and estuaries and feed on hard shelled prey (clams, snails, crabs) using a flat plate in their mouth.

 

Blue crabs and diamondback terrapins are important predators in estuarine food webs feeding on periwinkle snails that left unchecked could destroy the spartina grass ecosystem. 

 

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
67% 8
a. Blue crab
33% 4
b. Diamondback terrapin

Total Votes: 12

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/6/15 11:59 PM..

 

 The ecosystem engineering services of Spartina alterniflora provide benefits to humans like protection from storm surges, sediment capture, and pollutant filtering capabilities. Not to mention they are a favorite snack of the periwinkle snail: video.

Bald cypress trees are a resilient species that received help spreading their seed from the Carolina parakeet until the decline of the bird in the early 1900s. The bird was unique in that it had a beak strong enough to break open the hard, woody fruit of the cypress tree. 

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
33% 4
a. Spartina
67% 8
b. Bald cypress

Total Votes: 12

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/6/15 11:59 PM..
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Elite Eight

 

Our first round of Marsh Madness is complete and some of our mightiest estuarine species have fallen. Wonderfully delicious oysters and shrimp are out of the competition. So are sea turtles and red drum, busting many of our office brackets. All three plants species bested their animal counterparts, and the four species on APNEP's logo all came out on top.

Vote below by Wednesday, April 1 to pull your favorite species into the Final Four!

Spartina alterniflora provides important foraging habitat for estuarine species and are native to the east coast. Despite their importance here, Spartina are considered invasive in northwestern estuaries, where they are not native and have hybridized with native cordgrass Spartina foliosa.

American black ducks are permanent residents of the sounds, the southernmost place in which they can be found year-round. However, their migration range extends from Canada’s Hudson Bay in the northernmost reaches of Mexico. They’ve even been known to take a Caribbean vacation from time to time and have been spotted in Puerto Rico!

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
62% 8
a. Spartina
38% 5
b. Ducks

Total Votes: 13

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/1/15 11:59 PM..

 

Want to catch a striped bass? Large flies are popular bait on the Roanoke River, where stripers are running now through May. Shad species are also a popular bait choice.

Bald cypress trees can reach 120 feet in height. Spanish moss is often found hanging from its branches, which provides a feast for yellow-throated warblers to dine upon.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
58% 7
a. Bald Cypress
42% 5
b. Striped Bass

Total Votes: 12

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/1/15 11:59 PM..

 

The gender of a diamondback terrapin is influenced by the temperature of its nest. Higher temperatures tend to produce females, while lower temperatures produce more males.

Different seagrass species can be found throughout the sounds due to the differences in salinity. Pamlico Sound is dominated by eelgrass (Zostera marina), while the less salty Albemarle Sound contains grasses like widgeon grass (Ruppia maritima), naiads (Najas spp.) and wild celery (Vallisneria americana).

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
50% 5
a. Diamondback Terrapin
50% 5
b. Seagrass

Total Votes: 10

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/1/15 11:59 PM..

 

Slippery fish don’t stand a chance once they’ve been ensnared in an osprey’s talons. Opposable claws and rough foot pads are among the adaptations that help them secure their wriggling prey.

You can decipher the gender of a blue crab if you’re familiar with the architecture of Washington DC. Looking at its belly, you’ll see either the Washington Monument (males) or the Capitol dome (females). The ladies also have manicured nails! See it for yourself here (at 1:40).

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
89% 8
a. Blue Crab
11% 1
b. Osprey

Total Votes: 9

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 4/1/15 11:59 AM..
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Sweet Sixteen

 

Oysters (Crassostrea virginica) provide more than $4,000 of environmental benefits per acre each year, including filtration of our water and provision of fish habitat. They taste great too!

Spartina alterniflora is casually known as smooth cordgrass or simply "Spartina." It is the dominant grass found in the sounds’ salt marshes. Known as the "hero of the estuary," it provides food and habitat for juvenile fish, snow geese, ribbed mussels and fiddler crabs.

Oysters and Spartina can be used together to build a living shoreline, which can protect property more effectively than bulkheads in some circumstances and provides excellent environmental benefits. To see if a living shoreline is right for your property, read more here.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
53% 34
a. Spartina
47% 30
b. Oysters

Total Votes: 64

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:33 PM..

 

Tundra swans (Cygnus columbianus) flock to North Carolina by the thousands during the winter. They forage grains from the farms along the coast and are also sustained by the seeds and shoots from the sounds’ rich submerged aquatic vegetation.

Ducks like the northern pintail pictured here are highly sought-after by hunters. Currituck Sound is famous for its duck hunting opportunities, with many blinds on the water and companies offering trips.

These birds are two of many species that utilize the Atlantic Flyway, a migration corridor that runs through the Albemarle-Pamlico region. The rich waterfowl habitat it provides supports world-class hunting opportunities and unique coastal culture, evident at places like the Whalehead Club or the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
42% 25
a. Tundra swans
58% 34
b. Ducks

Total Votes: 59

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:33 PM..

 

Bald cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) are an iconic feature around the Albemarle Sound. Buttressed bases and cypress knees provide support on water-logged soils allowing these trees to withstand high winds and even hurricanes. A grove of bald cypress trees more than 800 years old can be found in the region.

American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) can be found in the Alligator River and other places around Albemarle and Currituck Sound. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge hosts other prominent residents with toothy grins too, including red wolves and black bears.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
78% 46
a. Bald Cypress
22% 13
b. Alligator

Total Votes: 59

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:33 PM..

 

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis), also known as "stripers" or "rockfish," are a favorite for fishermen and are often found foraging around structures like bridges. Striped bass can lay as many as 2 million eggs during spring spawning season.

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) are not as abundant as stripers. In fact, the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary is among the few places where this endanged species continues to produce young on an annual basis. Adult Atlantic sturgeon can reach 8 ft. long and weigh as much as a black bear!

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
60% 35
a. Striped bass
40% 23
b. Sturgeon

Total Votes: 58

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:33 PM..

 

Diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin) are the only turtle species along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts that are restricted to brackish water. They can live in coastal marshes and tidal creeks for up to 40 years! When the marsh cools off, the turtles hibernate alone or in groups.

North Carolina is at the northernmost range for sea turtles. Species visiting our sounds include loggerhead, green, leatherback and Kemp's Ridley. The North Carolina Aquariums and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission work together to monitor nests, provide rehabilitation for stranded turtles, and track young turtles in order to learn more about where they travel.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
65% 36
a. Diamondback terrapin
35% 19
b. Sea turtle

Total Votes: 55

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:32 PM..

 

Seagrass, or submerged aquatic vegetation, is an extremely important habitat for fish and waterfowl. By extension it’s also important to the hunters and fishermen that reside in and flock to eastern North Carolina. In 2011, an APNEP-led effort to survey seagrass from the air found 138,000 visible acres.

Red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) is North Carolina’s official state saltwater fish. The name derives from the drum-like sound males make during spawning time by vibrating a muscle in their swim bladder.

Seagrass is a very important habitat for red drum and 150 other fish and invertebrate species by providing shelter for juveniles, foraging areas, and protection from predators.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
64% 37
a. Seagrass
36% 21
b. Red drum

Total Votes: 58

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:32 PM..

 

The latin name for blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, means “beautiful swimmer.” Blue crabs are the number one fishery in North Carolina worth over $22.8 million in 2012. Watch this movie to learn more about this keystone crustacean.

Shrimp are another fishery important to the economy and culture of North Carolina, with nearly $13 million in landings in 2013. This species is estuarine dependent, meaning they require the protection and sustenance of our sounds in order to survive to maturity.

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
73% 41
a. Blue crab
27% 15
b. Shrimp

Total Votes: 56

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:32 PM..

 

Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) have a range that spans six continents. Superb fish hunters, they can dive into the water at speeds of 30mph! Check out this pair via webcam in Alabama’s Wolf Bay.

Great egrets (Ardea alba) feed and nest in estuaries. Bird Shoal, part of the Rachel Carson Reserve, is a great place to spot them and more than 200 other bird species

Which best represents the sounds?

% Votes
51% 32
a. Osprey
49% 31
b. Great egret

Total Votes: 63

Voting is disabled because this poll expired on 3/27/15 4:30 PM..
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