Photos and Information about Piver's Island, the Rachel Carson Reserve, Shackelford Banks and Fort Macon

Town Marsh across from Downtown Beaufort; Carrot Island to the East

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On his 1733 "New and Correct Map of the Province of North Carolina," Edward Moseley noted Carrot Island as "Carrot I." John Shackelford's 1734 Last Will & Testament included, "I bequest my estate to my son James and his heirs forever also Island called Carrot." The island may have been named for the shape of the marsh land at the time. 

The 1854 map below recorded "Carrot Island Channel" fronting the downtown waterfront; the channel flowed by the southern portion of Carrot Island Marshes and Horse Island to the North River Channel. 

Before the channel and Taylor's Creek were dredged, Taylor's Creek was a stream between the eastern half of Beaufort and the Carrot Island Marshes. 


Wild Horses of Rachel Carson Reserve

Photo contributed by Reserve volunteer, Robin Newton. Horses are from the same social group or "harem." Left to right: Sugargoot (lead stallion), Trilobite (subordinate stallion), and Beth (female) in the background.

A Beaufort resident, Dr. Luther Fulcher, placed horses on the islands in 1947. Livestock was also taken over to the islands to graze. With the resident's passing, the horses remained and became feral, reverting from domestication back to the wild. The horses became the property of the state when the land was purchased in the 1980s. There are currently 33 horses on the reserve - 14 males and 19 females. (3/19/2014) 

The main food supply of the feral horse is Smooth Cordgrass--Spartina alternaflora

Despite the harsh conditions the horses have thrived on the reserve. During the late 1980s and early 1990s the population exceeded capacity. This led to massive malnutrition and several deaths. The horses are considered a cultural resource; management action was required using a birth control program. This coupled with natural mortality helped the population get near the target number of 30 horses. 

The reserve's staff from the Beaufort office oversees the horse management. Individual horses are identified, photographed and maintained. Each horse is tracked for births, general health, social habits and eventually death. Beyond the birth control program, the horse population is treated as a wild herd.

The wild horses living on the Rachel Carson Reserve are beautiful and powerful animals. To many, they represent freedom and wildness for all to enjoy. Let's all participate in protecting them (and visitor safety) by giving these majestic wild animals their space. Watching them from at least a school bus length away (preferably more) will help the horses retain their wild nature and keep visitors out of the way of fighting stallions (pictured above) or a mare protecting her foal.

Rachel Carson Reserve - An Overview

A synopsis of Rachel Carson Reserve information, transcribed/compiled/updated by Mary Warshaw from The North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve


The Rachel Carson component of the NCNERR is located in the central part of North Carolina's coast. It is located near the mouth of the Newport River in southern Carteret County, directly across Taylor's Creek from the historic town of Beaufort. Rachel Carson is bounded on the north by Taylor's Creek and Beaufort, to the east by Back Sound, to the south by the Cape Lookout National Seashore, and the west by Piver's and Radio Islands. The reserve is located in the White Oak River Basin and on a broader scale in the Carolinian biogeographical province. Acquisition of the area was completed in 1985, with the addition of Middle Marshes in 1989. The site is accessible only by boat. The 2625-acre site consists of several small islands--Carrot, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, Horse Island and Middle Marshes--and extensive salt marshes and intertidial/subtital flats.


COREE: Prior to colonization of North Carolina, the Carrot Island-Middle Marshes area may have seen intermittent use by the Coree tribe of Native Americans. The Coree are thought to have spent considerable time on the nearby Outer Banks especially in the vicinity of Cape Lookout.

EARLY SETTLERS not only fished but used the waters in and near the Rachel Carson site for shipping lumber, naval stores and farm commodities.

WAR: In 1782 a Revolutionary War skirmish near the mouth of Taylor's Creek involved townsmen and a small British-landing party. Following an initial exchange of fire, the British moved about one-half mile eastward and landed on Carrot Island, spending the night there. At sunrise the British crossed Taylor's Creek to the mainland, overcame the troops and swept into Beaufort to begin a short-lived occupation.
With Fort Macon so close by, during the Civil War there was significant activity in the area before, during and after the siege of the fort when Union forces took control of the fort and Beaufort inlet.

Yaupon Tea

YAUPON HOLLY Ilex vomitoria
Yaupon holly is an evergreen shrub that grows wild in coastal areas in well-drained sandy soils, and can be found on the upper edges of brackish and salt marshes, sandy hammocks, coastal sand dunes, inner-dune depressions, sandhills, maritime forests, nontidal forested wetlands, well-drained forests and pine flatwoods. The fruit are an important food for many birds

This Plant is the Indian Tea, us’d and approv’d by all the Savages on the Coast of Carolina, and from them sent to the Westward Indians, and sold at a considerable Price. All which they cure after the same way, as they do for themselves; which is thus: They take this Plant (not only the Leaves, but the smaller Twigs along with them) and bruise it in a Mortar, till it becomes blackish, the Leaf being wholly defaced: Then they take it out, put it into one of their earthen Pots which is over the Fire, till it smoaks; stirring it all the time, till it is cur’d. Others take it, after it is bruis’d, and put it into a Bowl, to which they put live Coals, and cover them with the Yaupon, till they have done smoaking, often turning them over. After all, theyspread it upon their Mats, and dry it in the Sun to keep it for Use.

Schooner HIndu Tucks in to Wait Out Andrea

Before dawn Schooner Hindu tucked into Beaufort Inlet during the squall...and later decided to come into port and wait out tropical storm Andrea in 2013.

Horses from Town Marsh to Bird Shoal

6PM - At least 18 horses on their way...

Raining harder..."Ooops!...No umbrellas"
They all galloped back to Town Marsh
A few people on Rachel Carson Reserve - Harkers Island in the distance.
Though it's the first day of Spring, still chilly with not much color yet.