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BIO 480 : Spring 2014

Field studies in biology

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Day 07 | Friday, March 7, 2014

We began our final full day of the trip with the continental breakfast at the Inlet Inn and then headed to Fort Macon. While exploring the visitor’s center we received news that one of our classmates knew someone who worked at the fort, and that he was going to give us a small history lesson and a musket demonstration. He emerged from his office in the American military uniform of the time and took us outside. One of the most interesting things that we learned was that the fort was built for the War of 1812 and not the Civil War like many people believe. He also told us that some of the last shots of the American Revolution took place near the fort when American soldiers chased some British soldiers back to their ships. He then explained and showed us how the soldiers would load their muskets. It took quite some time to load the gun and he also told us just how inaccurate the guns were, which was pretty surprising. He then proceeded to countdown and fire the musket! It was very loud and made a lot of us jump, but it was awesome to see. That concluded his demonstration and he left us to explore the fort. The fort itself had a beautiful view of the surrounding waters, which made sense because the soldiers would have had a great view of any approaching enemies. There were several signs warning that '...the fort was built for war and not for safety” and there were many high drop offs to be careful off. After we had sufficiently explored the fort, we headed back to Beaufort.

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Our next stop was the Maritime Museum in Historic Beaufort. The museum was a really cool place, especially for a bunch of marine biology majors! One of the most popular exhibits is all about Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The ship was found right off of the coast near Beaufort and there is an ongoing effort to recover as much as possible from the wreck site. The museum had some amazing artifacts from the ship, including several of its cannons and a large amount of gold dust. Another awesome thing in the museum was the sperm whale skeleton that hung from the ceiling and a mold of its heart that was on display. After the museum, we walked across the street to grab some lunch at Finz Grill.

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After a delicious lunch, we walked to the docks across from our hotel to catch a small skiff that would ferry us across Taylor’s Creek to Town Marsh. Although the boat ride was a short one, we were lucky enough to see some bottlenose dolphins that were playing in the creek very close to our boat! We then arrived at Town Marsh, and our guide, Ben, lead us around some trails on the island. It was incredibly windy and a bit rainy so we tended to stay on the interior of the island where it was much more sheltered. While exploring the island we encountered a small herd of seven wild horses! Ben explained to us that the herd on Town Marsh and Carrot Island is maintained at about 30 horses, whereas on neighboring Shackleford Banks, there are over 110 horses. Ben also showed us some of the plants on the island, many of which we had encountered during our Bio Blitzes. He also gave us some neat information about some of the plants, such as how the Native Americans made a tea out of the roots of the Yaupon tree. We continued to explore the island with Ben and despite the nasty weather, it was a great time and a beautiful island!

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After we took the boat back to Beaufort, we warmed up and dried off in our hotel before we headed to Clawson’s for another amazing dinner. After eating, we returned to the hotel and made the decision to head out to the Old Burying Ground a few blocks from the Inlet Inn. The graveyard has some very interesting history, including a girl buried in a rum barrel and a British soldier buried standing up saluting to the North. Only a brave few ventured into the spooky graveyard and when we were about to the leave the guys scared a few of the girls pretty badly!

The graveyard was a great cap to a long and awesome day. Too bad it was our last full day together!

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