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The Currituck Banks site is an excellent example of a low-salinity estuarine system. The site lies in the northeastern corner of North Carolina, ten miles south of the Virginia border and three-quarters of a mile north of the village of Corolla. Bounded by the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, the site encompasses 965 acres. The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service own neighboring tracts to the north. Currituck Banks was one of the three original NERR components dedicated by NOAA and the Division of Coastal Management in 1985.
Throughout recent geologic time, Currituck Banks has been a dynamic barrier landform, moving or “migrating” in response to sea level changes. While the Banks was once a series of islands, it is currently part of a complex barrier spit that extends about 70 miles from Virginia Beach to Oregon Inlet. Behind this barrier spit, extensive marshes have built up from inlet deltas and overwash fans that were submerged by rising sea level.
The mixing of the warm Gulf Stream current and the cool Labrador Current off Currituck Banks creates a climate where northern species reach the southern limit of their ranges and southern species reach the northern limit of their ranges. As a result, a diversity of species from both regions is found here. The habitats are ocean beach, sand dunes, grasslands, shrub thicket, maritime forest, brackish and freshwater marshes, tidal flats, and subtidal soft bottoms. There is a rich community of both commercial and game fish species in the sound such as, largemouth bass, yellow perch, tidewater silverside, pumpkinseed, blue-spotted sunfish, bluegill, black crappie, and channel catfish. Other fish include white perch, carp, shad, herring, and eel. In addition to the abundance of fish species are many birds, including wading birds, shore birds, songbirds, and birds of prey. The Currituck Sound is located within the Atlantic Flyway, and the site is especially important for migrating waterfowl. Some birds of special concern are the osprey, Wilson’s plover, black skimmer, and least tern. Currituck Banks is also part of the North Carolina Birding Trail System.
Getting to the Site
Take N.C. 12 north past Corolla. Visitor parking for boardwalk and trail use is located at the sharp turn in the road. Beach access is limited to four-wheel drive vehicles.
Visiting the Site
Currituck Banks is accessible by foot traffic and boat; however, there is no boat ramp or dock within the Reserve boundaries. The northern portion of the Reserve is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicles along the beach corridor after N.C. 12 terminates at the beach access ramp. A 1/3-mile boardwalk begins at the parking lot and leads to a view of Currituck Sound. A 1.5-mile primitive trail departs from the boardwalk and heads north through a maritime forest.
Hunting is allowed within Currituck Banks National Estuarine Research Reserve following NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC Coastal Reserve, and Currituck County rules and regulations. Hunters are responsible for knowing and abiding by all hunting regulations and knowing Reserve boundaries.
Hunters are required to have a valid state hunting license AND a valid NC Coastal Reserve hunting permit. The Reserve permit involves two forms: a registration form and a Currituck Banks Permit.
THE REGISTRATION FORM MUST BE COMPLETED AND RETURNED TO THE KITTY HAWK OFFICE PRIOR TO HUNTING. THE PERMIT MUST BE SIGNED, DATED, AND CARRIED WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES WHILE HUNTING.
Hunters are asked to participate in a pair of wildlife studies AND are REQUIRED to report all successful harvest information to the Reserve.
Please contact the Reserve office for more information: 252-261-8891