North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve

Quick Facts

North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve

North Carolina

(910) 962-2470

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Things To Do



North Carolina's estuarine system is the third largest in the country, encompassing more the two million acres. This system is of prime economic importance to the coastal area; 90 percent of the commercial seafood species caught in the state spend at least part of their lives in an estuary. The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve was established to preserve these fragile natural areas and the variety of life they support. This program protects more than 41,000 acres of estuarine land and water, which provides essential habitat for wildlife; offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and the public; and serves as living laboratories for scientists. 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.

Map of North Carolina Nat'l Estuarine Research Reserve

Latitude, Longitude: 34.132410, -77.861137



  • Hiking

    Explore tidal areas by foot. Be sure to check and see which areas are open to the public.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Appreciate the healthy vigor of these unique habitats, plants and animals of the Carolina coast. Listen to the natural sounds of undisturbed coastal environments.

Park Partners



The reserve is comprised of four sites located near Corolla (Currituck Banks), Beaufort (Rachel Carson) and Wilmington (Masonboro Island and Zeke's Island) in North Carolina.

Phone Numbers


(910) 962-2470