A photo a day from Oriental, NC, the surrounding Pamlico County area, and nearby rivers, creeks, bays and other waterways of coastal North Carolina.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7.28- Marines Attacking Piney Island, NC

Marine Corps aircraft frequently fly over and around Oriental... they fly out of Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station near Havelock, NC, about ten miles Southwest of Oriental, and "attack" a multitude of targets in the "BT-11" multi-purpose target complex (read more about BT-11 here) on and around Piney Island, just off the Neuse River about ten miles East of Oriental.

One can often see attack helicopters, AV-8B Harriers ("Jump Jets") and V-22 Osprey flying around. I have seen helicopters hovering over the target and actually firing live ammo at it (I'll try for a photo next time I see it), but the planes only use simulated/electronic targeting or dummy ammo for their runs.

I think today's picture is of a Harrier, but then again it might have been an F-16. If you can tell, please drop me an "Ahoy" below.

In the Google Map below the red line runs between Cherry Pt. and the target area... If you click on "Satellite" and use the map controls to zoom into the Eastern (right hand) end of the red line, you can see a scuttled yard freighter class ship they use as a target... pan around Piney Island and you can see a bunch of the targets listed in the link to BT-11 info above:


Sunday, July 27, 2008

7.26- Seven Boats Rafting

These seven sailboats were rafting in Oriental harbor anchorage earlier this evening.

This weekend brings the Rotary Club's Tarpon (that's a fish) Tournament to town, and while powered fishing vessels full of tarpon anglers dominate the harbor scene, this group of sailboats from New Bern NC, Hampton Roads VA, Boston MA, and somewhere in MD dropped anchors, rafted together, and had a big party. After an hour or so, the boats dispersed.


Friday, July 25, 2008

7.24- "Southern Lady" under tow

While sailing around in the Neuse River today we heard the Coast Guard talking to the Captain of "Southern Lady" on the VHF radio... soon after "Southern Lady" came right by us on the way to Beaufort, being towed by "Captain James II."


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7.22- "Play'n Hookey"

Saw these guys (father and son from the looks of it) shrimping in Oriental harbor and the mouth of Smith's Creek from their vessel "Play'n Hookey."

I took this pictures from atop the NC Hwy. 55 bridge over Smith's Creek.

During July evenings, there are often six to a dozen or so small boats like "Play'n Hookey" shrimping in the creek mouth.

Those big commercial trawlers in the background (tied up at "Point Pride Seafood" on Chadwick Point) shrimp out in the Neuse River, Pamlico Sound and other shrimping grounds from FL to ME, depending on where the catches are. Last year and this year there has been plenty of shrimp in the Pamlico Sound and its watershed to keep the Oriental fleet here, and to attract visiting commercial trawlers from up and down the east coast.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

7.21- Amazing Grace, She Needs a Fix, To Save a Wrecked Port-Pole

"Amazing Grace" isn't out shrimping today... she is tied up at Point Pride Seafood with a maimed port-side outrigger.

Shrimp trawlers suspend nets, attached with cables, from the boat's two outriggers, which are lowered into horizontal positions for trawling... The boats are rigged so that the nets sweep along just above the bottom of the river or sea, while bottom-crawling cables called "ticklers" prompt the bottom-dwelling shrimp to swim up into the paths of the nets.

The vessels also tow large wooden "doors" that act as underwater wings to spread the two ends of the net wide apart to increase the catch area (they do indeed look like doors, from cottage-sized doors to cathedral-sized doors... you can see one hanging from the rigging above the aft deck on the starboard side of this trawler).

The outriggers also provide stability to the vessel the same way a tightrope walker uses a balancing pole. They lower the outriggers into horizontal positions once the vessel is underway, even when they are not trawling with the nets.

I understand that essentially identical commercial vessels can also "troll" for fish by using such outriggers to suspend numerous fishing lines with baited hooks as the boat pulls them through the water... Such boats are called "trollers" rather than "trawlers," and their outriggers are known as "troll poles"... slowly traveling with baited lines is called, not surprisingly, "trolling."

Most of the commercial trawlers operating out of slips at Oriental harbor's two fish-houses ("Fulcher Seafood" and "Point Pride Seafood") are shrimp trawlers, at least at this time of year.

However it works, this shrimping season so-far promises to be a huge one, from what I hear on the street.

By evening, the damaged outrigger had been removed.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

7.19- Shore Crab and Sea Slaters

After seeing a mink hauling a small crab across the rip-rap South Avenue breakwater the other day, I decided to try to find some of the crabs today, successfully as you can see.

This is some type of Shore Crab, though I haven't been able to identify the particular type. Its' body is perhaps a tad over one inch wide. I often see these crabs, but they are usually scurrying away into hiding under the rocks along the breakwater. This one settled in a spot that allowed me to capture the photo.

The crab is holding (and munching on) the remains of what I have learned is a "Sea Slater," also informally known as Rock Louse, Beach Cockroach, or Wharf Roach.

I will post a picture of live Sea Slaters in the future. Sea Slaters are Marine Isopods of the genus "Ligia," which includes 39 very similar looking species. All have seven pairs of legs.

Sea Slaters have gills, which they must keep damp by dipping their hinies into water, but they will not survive underwater. They usually cluster on rocks that are kept wet by the waves, but after a rain they will swarm up the sea wall and cover the edge of South Avenue.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

7.18- Pelecanus occidentalis (breed Orientalis)

A Brown Pelican (pelecanus occidentalis) takes wing from its perch on top of Pecan Grove Marina's private Marker #1 at the mouth of Smith Creek. Masts in the background are at Oriental Harbor Marina, across the creek.

Seems like I take a lot of pictures of Pelicans, but they are such cool birds. They always remind me of something that should be on Skull Island in "King Kong" (the original).

I took this picture while sailing around the harbor in a Bauer 10 foot Dinghy. I really wanted to get a picture of the bird perching, because they look like painted wooden carvings... in hindsight I was lucky it decided to take off just as I pointed the camera.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

7.16- Neovison Vison (American Mink)

Here is one of two mink "kits" that hunt along the South Avenue breakwater... Actually, they are weened (saw one carrying a shore crab away to munch on), so I'm not sure they are "kits" anymore... juveniles anyway.

I used to see their momma last fall and over the winter, crawling among the rip-rap breakwater along the South Avenue waterfront near Lou-Mac park, which is where I shot these pictures today. The past few days I noticed what I thought was a single mink, guessing it was a youngster, so I took the camera today... I first realized there were two of them when they briefly left the rip-rap and ran about 20 feet down South Avenue before ducking back into the rocks.

Sometime soon I'll post some pictures of their momma that I took over the winter.

These two are noticeably smaller than momma, and they travel together hunting for edibles in the rip-rap, where there are plenty of crab, minnows, and bait dropped by fishers.

Adult mink are solitary animals, while the young will live together with momma for their first spring and summer and into the fall before going out on their own.


Monday, July 7, 2008

7.06- No Rollerblading or Skateboarding

This sign was recently erected on this empty lot at the corner of South Water St. and New St. In the background is a sculpture entitled "Wave Form" (artist unknown because plaque has disappeared).


Sunday, July 6, 2008

7.05- Croaker Festival Fireworks

"Croakerfest," held in Oriental on the first weekend in July, brought fireworks to Smith Creek and the NC 55 bridge. This picture is taken from a Dock B of Oriental Harbor Marina.

Yesterday evening (July 4), as I was leaving my reading spot under the Mimosa Tree next to the Dinghy Dock, I was approached by half a dozen Oriental visitors asking me where they should go to watch the fireworks, only to be disappointed to learn that in Oriental, fireworks are scheduled for Croakerfest, and only fall on July 4 if that happens to be the first Saturday of July.

Hopefully they all decided to stay in town another night to see tonight's display.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

6.30- Fresh Croaker

This is a "Croaker"(Micropogonias undulatus), the namesake for Oriental's annual summer festival, "Croakerfest," held the first weekend in July. A Croaker effigy is also dropped from a sailboat mast at midnight New Year's Eve after the Running of the Dragon.

This fish was caught today from the new fishing pier at Lou-Mac Park in Oriental. The white specks out on the river (above hand) are commercial trawlers shrimping on Garbacon Shoal, across the Neuse River from Oriental.

Despite its' importance to Oriental Holidays, few locals eat croaker, complaining that it is too oily and bony, and its' large head means little edible flesh. The fisher who caught this one told me he eats them all the time.

Croaker get they're name from the fact that they make a loud croaking noise (a bit like the purring of a 20 pound house-cat), which this one was doing with abandon. They create the sound by beating abdominal muscles against their swim bladder.