Retrospective analysis of the embayment in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve from 1998 to current

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The Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort, NC has been a highly monitored and researched area due to its proximity to the Duke Marine Lab, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Beaufort Lab, and preserved status within the reserve. Utilizing data from these resources, the changes to the high-salinity embayment in Bird Shoal were recorded and mapped. The baseline data were acquired from Dr. William Kirby-Smith, Jonathan Kool, Sean Ramach, and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. The primary focus of the study was to compare the shoreline change and the distribution of Crassostrea virginica within the embayment in the past 30 years.

The first section of this report outlines the history of the study site in Bird Shoal, along with the previous researchers that have used the Rachel Carson Estuarine reserve as their location of choice. The proximity to multiple government buildings and higher education laboratories has prompted research with in the reserve for decades. The next section deals with extracting the data from multiple sources and utilizing datasets created from Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to quantitatively and qualitatively compare the changes to the embayment. The final section discusses the details of the changes and the potential causes to the shift in the environment with the embayment. With a decrease in 40% of the water area, the embayment has had a great deal of accretion especially in the southern facing beach. The embayment is now decreasing in size as the northern portions have remained static. The oyster population has bloomed throughout the embayment. They are heavily located in the initial estimates from Kool but have also expanded to both sides of the Bird Shoal inlet and completely covered crab island. As of 2017, the area of oyster distribution is over 6,000 m2 which has grown substantially from 1999.





Delgado, Scott (2019). Retrospective analysis of the embayment in the Rachel Carson Estuarine Research Reserve from 1998 to current. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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