Outer Banks - North Carolina
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The Pamlico Sound Program began in 1999 as an effort to examine the impacts of three hurricanes within a 6 week period on what was a sparsely studied ecosystem at the time. The program has continued to the present and consists of a network of nine stations in the southwestern region of the sound, where measurements and sample collection continue at monthly to bimonthly frequency as an extension of the Neuse River Estuary Program (ModMon). Funding for both programs comes from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (NC-DENR), the Neuse River Compliance Association (NRCA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, a NC-DOT ferry-based autonomous water quality monitoring program, FerryMon, was initiated in 2000 to continuously collect water quality data in the same study area between Cedar Island and Ocracoke Island (see www.ferrymon.org).
Pamlico Sound is the largest (5,335 km2) component of the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine System (APES), which is the largest lagoonal estuary in the U.S. The APES is one of the USAs most important fisheries nurseries, supporting approximately 80% of commercial and sports fisheries along US Southeast Atlantic Coastal and shelf waters. Average depth of Pamlico Sound is 4.9 m and major tributaries are the Neuse River, Pamlico River, and Albemarle Sound. The circulation of the Sound is dominated by wind tides and river flow, except near the three major inlets from the Atlantic Ocean. The Pamlico Sound Program supports North Carolina's needs for space and time-intensive monitoring and assessment of water quality and environmental conditions; including nutrient-eutrophication dynamics, algal blooms, hypoxia, fish kills, and related issues pertinent to the public's interests and the ability of NC-DENR to provide science-based management decisions.