National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, North Carolina.
The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve was established to preserve the fragile natural areas that make up the third largest estuarine system in the country and the variety of life found there. Ninety percent of the commercial seafood species caught in the state spend at least part of their lives in an estuary. The state is representative of two major biogeographic regions located north (Virginian) and south (Carolinian) of Cape Hatteras. The four components of the North Carolina Reserve represent both of these regions. Currituck Banks is in the Virginian, while Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island and Zeke's Island are Carolinian. The reserve protects 10,000 acres of barrier islands, inlets and estuaries.
The reserve comprises four sites located near Corolla (Currituck Banks), Beaufort (Rachel Carson) and Wilmington (Masonboro Island and Zeke's Island).