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Carolina Coastal Photojournal - Educator's Guide

The Carolina Coastal Photojournal is an inquiry-based photojournal. Students use guided questions to explore the physical characteristics of coastal environments. Each photojournal screen provides some brief background information on a coastal area followed by one to four questions to guide students' exploration of digital photographs, QuickTime Virtual Reality panoramas, and QuickTime movies. Suggested answers to each question in the Carolina Coastal Photojournal can be found in the "Explanations" section below.

Curriculum Integration

The Carolina Coastal Photojournal can be used in your classroom in a variety of ways:

In a one computer classroom, you can use the still images and QuickTime Virtual Reality panoramas in the Carolina Coastal Photojournal to have students discuss similarities and differences in the amount of sand, visible waves, and plant cover between the ocean side and marsh side of the same barrier island.

In a classroom of four to seven computers, cooperative groups of three or four students can explore the still images and QuickTime Virtual Reality panoramas to identify similarities and differences among the three regions of the Carolina Coast. Guide your students' inquiry by having them pay attention to the presence and absence of barrier islands, inlets, coastal rivers, and sounds.

As an extension activity for primary school students, have students use the Carolina Coastal Photojournal to draw their own barrier island. Have students color in sand and plants.

As an extension activity for middle school and upper secondary school students, have students use the Internet to locate photographs of other coastal areas in the world and compare these to the Carolina coast. Use the following guided question: Where in the world do you find other extensive barrier island systems? Guide your students' investigation to focus on the presence and absence of barrier islands, coastal rivers, and sounds.

As an extension activity for upper secondary school students, have students use the Carolina Coastal Photojournal to construct their own set of inquiry questions to investigate. Or, use the following guided inquiry questions for students to investigate:
Should development occur on the pictured barrier islands? What are the dangers of inlet side development? Why should barrier islands be protected from development?

As an extension activity for upper secondary school students, have students use the Carolina Coastal Photojournal to predict the best location for an ocean outfall for sewage disposal on the Carolina Coast.

Explanations

This section provides suggested answers to the guided inquiry question on each screen of the Carolina Coastal Photojournal.
The Carolina Coastal Photojournal is divided into three different geographical sections as follows:

  1. Northern North Carolina Coastal Area
  2. Southern North Carolina Coastal Area
  3. South Carolina Coastal Area

Northern North Carolina Coastal Area

Atlantic Beach

Guided question: How have humans altered the ecology of this barrier island?
Suggested answer(s): Humans have altered the ecology of this barrier island by developing houses and recreational facilities. On Atlantic Beach, many houses and trailers use septic tanks for human waste disposal. Faulty septic tanks alter the nutrient levels in the marsh area of Atlantic Beach. This has resulted in decreased shellfish populations. Development and human use of beach areas have also altered the natural dune systems of the area. Dunes provide protection to inland vegetation from wind and salt-water spray.

How does the sediment in these photos compare with the sediment in other areas of Bogue Banks, such as Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Macon?
Suggested answer(s): The sediment pictured in the Atlantic Beach photos is fine white sand. This sand was placed there by dump trucks. On other areas of Bouge Banks, the sediment is darker and more coarse which is typical of normal sand/sediment transport systems that involve wind and waves. Fort Macon's sediments are the most coarse. These sediments were placed there as dredge spoil.

Bodie Island

Guided question: Why were sandbags placed in front of the beach houses?
Suggested answer(s): Sandbags are an erosion prevention measure. They are used to prevent water damage to the houses from incoming waves.

Guided question: What other options do the homeowners of these beach houses have to prevent the destruction of their homes from natural erosion?
Suggested answer(s): Homeowners can move their existing houses further away from the shoreline. In the state of North Carolina, it is against the law to build a hard structure on the beach to protect a house. This would be a viable option for someone living in a state where the beach is privately owned.

Core Banks

Guided question: What physical processes prevent developed sand dunes from forming on the island?
Suggested answer(s): High wind and wave energy prevent developed sand dunes from forming on the island.

Guided question: What causes the areas of overwash on this island?
Suggested answer(s): Areas of overwash are formed from strong storm surges.

Guided question: Both Drum Inlet and Barden's Inlet have natural and human origins. What are the visible differences between these two inlets?
Suggested answer(s): Drum Inlet has a large ebb shield. This is the visible white shield you can see in the Drum Inlet photographs. This shield is not present in the Barden's Inlet aerial photographs.

Guided question: Do you think Drum Inlet has more water going out into the ocean or more water coming into the sound?
Suggested answer(s): Drum Inlet has more water going out into the sound. This is characteristic of the ebb shield that forms from its huge flood tidal delta.

Guided question: Looking at the aerial photographs, we see different colors in the water. Why?
Suggested answer(s): We see different colors in the aerial photographs due to water depth changes.

Emerald Isle

Guided question: How do the beach sediments on Emerald Isle differ from beach sediments in other parts of Bogue Banks, such as Atlantic Beach, Salter Path, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Macon?
Suggested answer(s): The sediments here are similar to sediments on Salter Path and Pine Knoll Shores. These sediments are typical of normal sand/sediment transport systems that involve wind and waves. The sediment pictured on the Atlantic Beach photos show a finer white sand. Fort Macon's sediments are the most coarse. They were deposited as dredge spoil.

Guided question: What are the conditions that allow the extensive salt marshes on the sound side?
Suggested answer(s): Conditions that allow the extensive salt marshes on the sound side include a well-developed foredune ridge and dune system on the ocean side of the barrier island.

Fort Macon

Guided question: How do the sediments at Fort Macon differ from other areas of Bogue Banks such as Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Pine Knoll Shores, and Atlantic Beach?
Suggested answer(s): Fort Macon's sediments are the most coarse of all the areas of Bouge Banks. They were deposited as dredge spoil.

Guided question: What do think causes an escarpment to form?
Suggested answer(s): This escarpment was formed by the pumping of dredge spoil materials on to the beach. This escarpment contains poorly sorted shells, sand, and armored mud balls from pre Holocene times that originated from Beaufort Inlet. Escarpments like these do not form on a natural beach.

Cape Hatteras/Buxton

Guided question: Should the lighthouse should be saved? What options are available? What is your recommendation?
Suggested answer(s): This is an open-ended question. Answer(s) will vary based on personal beliefs. Options include moving the lighthouse away from the shoreline, beach renourishment, or continuing to place sandbags in front of the lighthouse. To explore this issue in more detail, please see the "Relocating A Lighthouse" investigation on this CD-ROM.

Guided question: Cape Hatteras and Cape Point are famous fall fishing sites. What factors contribute to this recreation/commercial fishery?
Suggested answer(s): Two major ocean currents, the Labrador Current and the Southern Current, converge near Cape Point. Many migratory fish follow these currents.

Jarrett's Bay

Guided question: Is the water in Jarrett's Bay as salty as the ocean?
Suggested answer(s): The water in Jarrett's Bay is not as salty as the ocean. Juncus will not grow in waters with a salinity content as high as the ocean's.

Guided question: Is this marsh growing or eroding away?
Suggested answer(s): This is an open-ended question. The water intrusion into the maritime forest area of this marsh would lead one to suspect that this marsh is eroding away.

Guided question: What conditions prevent more diversity of plants in this marsh?
Suggested answer(s): Plants species in this marsh must be being able to tolerate sea spray intrusion.

Guided question: Is the environment of Jarrett's Bay different from the sound side of Bogue Banks at Emerald Isle and Pine Knoll Shores?
Suggested answer(s): This is a difficult question to answer based on the pictures that are provided. The main observable difference in these photos is the intrusion of water in maritime forest area of Jarrett's Bay. Also, it appears that there are larger fields of Juncus in Jarrett's Bay compared with the sound side of Bouge Banks.

Jockey's Ridge

Guided question: What is the source of sand for Jockey's Ridge?
Suggested answer(s): Sand comes from the nearby beaches and is deposited from winds in three different wind systems: southwest, northeast, and northwest.

Guided question: If you were standing on the highest point of Jockey's Ridge, how far do you think you would have to dig down into the sand until you hit the water table?
Suggested answer(s): According to coastal geologists, you only have to dig five feet into the sand from the highest point of Jockey's Ridge to hit water after a good rainfall.

Middle Marsh

Guided question: Why do oysters inhabit Middle Marsh?
Suggested answer(s): Middle Marsh is an estuarine environment. Oysters are filter feeders. They require food and a hard substrate on which to attach. Oysters can also tolerate a large range of salinities.

Guided question: What is the source of sediments for Middle Marsh?
Suggested answer(s): The source of sediments for Middle Marsh are organic marsh dentritus and muds. There are sandy deposits underneath the muds from an old flood tidal delta.

Guided question: What clues do you see in these photographs that indicate low tide or high tide?
Suggested answer(s): This is a difficult question. In some of the photographs, you can see the muds and clay at the base of the Spartina plants. This would indicate that the tide is low. In actuality, these photos were taken when the high tide was rising.

Guided question: How is the vegetation on Middle Marsh different from the vegetation on barrier islands such as Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Macon, and Core Banks?
Suggested answer(s): The only vegetation that is visible on Middle Marsh is Spartina. There is more variety of vegetation on the other barrier islands.

Nags Head

Guided question: What conditions or factors allow a maritime forest to develop on a barrier island?
Suggested answer(s): Maritime forests develop after dunes have stabilized for a few thousand years. Maritime forests survive on barrier islands when they are protected from winds and excessive salt water spray.

Ocracoke Island

Guided question: How many different distinct barrier island characteristics can you identify in these photos and panoramas?
Suggested answer(s): In the photos and panoramas, you can see a foredune on the ocean side, a vegetated dune field, a maritime forest, a shrub thicket with Wax myrtle and Youpon holly trees, a salt marsh area characterized by the presence of Juncus and Spartina Patens on the back-barrier side of the island, a tidal flat, and a sound.

Oregon Inlet

Guided question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Oregon Inlet stabilization?
Suggested answer(s): An advantage of stabilizing Oregon Inlet is that it provides a path for fisherman to travel into the ocean and back into the sound. According to a coastal geologist, this is the third most difficult inlet to navigate in the United States. This is very important for the North Carolina fishing industry. A disadvantage to inlet stabilization is that the terminal groins obstruct the natural flow of sediment. This will result in increased beach erosion further south of the inlet towards Hatteras.

Pea Island

Guided question: What is the evidence of human impact on this barrier island?
Suggested answer(s): The evidence of human impact on this barrier island includes the construction of roads in dune fields and the remains of a building on the beach.

Pine Knoll Shores

Guided question: How does this beach differ from other beaches on Bogue Banks, such as Emerald Isle, Salter Path, Atlantic Beach, and Fort Macon?
Suggested answer(s): The sediments here are similar to sediments on Salter Path and Emerald Isle. These sediments are typical of normal sand/sediment transport systems that involve wind and waves. The sediment pictured in the Atlantic Beach photos is a finer white sand. Fort Macon's sediments are the most coarse. They were deposited as dredge spoil.

Rachel Carson Reserve

Guided question: Why do some of the shrubs appear to be dead or lack leaves?
Suggested answer(s): Some of the shrubs are dead or lack leaves because of severe salt spray intrusion from Hurricane Fran.

Guided question: How does the horse population on this barrier island obtain its drinking water?
Suggested answer(s): The horse population obtains its drinking water by digging or stomping into the ground to gain access to the island's water table.

Salter Path

Guided question: How does the beach on Salter Path differ from other areas of Bogue Banks, such as Emerald Isle, Atlantic Beach, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Macon?
Suggested answer(s): The sediments here are similar to sediments on Pine Knoll Shores and Emerald Isle. These sediments are typical of normal sand/sediment transport systems that involve wind and waves. The sediment pictured in the Atlantic Beach photos is a finer white sand. Fort Macon's sediments are the most coarse. They were deposited as dredge spoil.

Guided question: What is the function of grass on a dune system?
Suggested answer(s): Grass stabilizes the dunes.

Shackleford Banks

Guided question: What might life on this barrier island have been like in the 19th century?
Suggested answer(s): This is an open-ended question. Life would have been difficult on this barrier island in the 19th century. Much of the island is unsheltered from the natural elements.

Guided question: What does the presence of peat tell about the geological history of this island?
Suggested answer(s): The presence of peat on the sound side under the marshes is evidence that this barrier island has migrated.

Guided question: Notice the shape of this island from the aerial photographs. Can you explain why the east end of the island is quite wide while the middle is very thin?
Suggested answer(s): The net transport of sediments is towards the east end of the island. This results from the direction of incoming waves and winds.

Guided question: Shackleford Banks was once attached to Cape Lookout. What forces caused it to open and remain open?
Suggested answer(s): A severe storm caused this inlet to form. The resulting ebb-dominated tidal system continues keep this inlet open.

South Outer Banks: Avon, Chicamacomico, and Rodanthe

Guided question: The middle area near the Rodanthe fishing pier has the highest erosion rate on the Outer Banks. What do you think might be the cause of this?
Suggested answer(s): The Kineekeet shoals form a natural bump in the shoreline. This subtidal shoal system made of rocks focuses the incoming waves towards the area near the Rodanthe fishing pier.

Guided question: What are the options that oceanfront homeowners near Rodanthe have to protect their homes from natural erosion?
Suggested answer(s): Homeowners can move their houses inland, further away from the beach, or place sandbags in front of their homes.



Southern North Carolina Coastal Area

Bear Island

Guided question: A photo below shows a fence in the sand. Why would the park rangers use a fence like this?
Suggested answer(s): Sand fences are used to build sand dunes.

Guided question: What types of mammals might live on this island?
Suggested answer(s): This is an open-end question. Mammals that could live on this island would have to be able to survive in very harsh conditions. They would have to be able to get their water from the ground water table. Mammals living on this island would most likely live in the backbarrier marsh or the maritime forest where the habitats would provide for the most protection.

Guided question: What are the limits to how many mammals can live on this island? What happens to the excess?
Suggested answer(s): The limits to how many animals can live on this island are determined by the availability of food, shelter, water, and space. If this barrier island environment can not support the mammal populations, mammals would have to migrate to another place or die off.

Fort Fisher

Guided question: How do you think this coquina rock outcrop affects sand movements on the nearby beaches?
Suggested answer(s): The coquina rock might slightly alter the natural sediment movements. The coquina rock outcrops are beach sediments cemented with calcium carbonate. These rocks may serve as a place where sand could be deposited.

Guided question: How is a rocky habitat different from a sandy habitat?
Suggested answer(s): A rocky habitat will provide more shelter for a variety of organisms.

Mason's Inlet/Shell Island Resort

Guided question: What structures are the resort owners using to protect their investment?
Suggested answer(s): When these pictures were taken, the resort owner received a permit to place a temporary hard structure of memory sheeting to protect their investment. Currently, sandbags are being used to protect the Shell Island Resort. To explore these issues in more detail, see the "Shell Island Dilemma" elsewhere on this CD-ROM.

Guided question: How far south do you think this inlet will migrate?
Suggested answer(s): This is an open ended question. Not even the coastal geologists who study this area know for sure.

Topsail Island

Guided question: What do you think the beach looked like before the hurricanes?
Suggested answer(s): The beach had dunes and much finer sand. The trees on this island used to be alive. The beach also had a berm that was bulldozed to serve as a dike.

Guided question: It is obvious from the photos that sand has been removed from the base of many of the oceanfront houses. Where do you think the sand has gone?
Suggested answer(s): Much of the sand became displaced and ended up towards the backbarrier side of the island.

South Carolina Coastal Area

Hunting Island

Guided question: Do you think the beach shoreline is eroding or growing seaward? What evidence do you see that supports your assumption?
Suggested answer(s): The beach shoreline is eroding. The evidence visible in the photos include remains of trees on the beach and visible eroding escarpments. Also, there is not a well-formed primary dune on this beach.

Guided question: Notice the palmetto trees on the beach. How did these trees end up on the beach?
Suggested answer(s): This beach used to be a forest full of Palmetto trees. This barrier island is migrating landwards.What was once a forest is now a beach.

Guided question: What type of wildlife do you think lives on this island? Do you think you would find similar animals on the barrier islands in North Carolina?
Suggested answer(s): Hunting Island has a large diversity of wildlife that includes periwinkles, fiddler crabs, deer, bivalves, insects, birds, and even alligators. You would expect to find some similar animals on the barrier islands in North Carolina. However, since Hunting Island is a different type of climate, it contains some species that are different and have adapted to its environment.

Sullivan's Island

Guided question: What types of natural processes are affecting the shoreline on Sullivan's Island? What evidence do you see in the photos?
Suggested answer(s): The photos show evidence of beach erosion such as scarped dunes near the beach.

Guided question: Why are there sand fences near the beach?
Suggested answer(s): The sand fences are placed to develop dunes.




Educator's Guide | Carolina Coastal Photojournal | The Shell Island Dilemma | Inquiry Images | Coastal Research Technology | Relocating A Lighthouse

Carolina Coastal Science


©1999, Alec M. Bodzin for the Science Junction, NC State University. All rights reserved.

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