During our short, but fun, time with the Sturgeon City Science Institute, we experienced first hand the diverse wildlife in Onslow County. The organisms we observed were found at the Sturgeon City Salt Marsh, Onslow Beach, the Intracoastal Waterway, the Land Application lily pond, the Maritime forest, and Wilson Bay. The habitat in which the wildlife lived played a key role in the data we collected and the things we saw.
Using dip nets and seine nets to explore the salt water environments, we observed various organisms. Among the locations we visited, there was the Intracoastal Waterway, Onslow Beach, Wilson Bay, and the Sturgeon City Salt Marsh. We observed a variety of organisms at these locations and were intrigued by how they came to live there and how they worked together with their environment to survive. Most sea animals have adapted to have an external mucus membrane to protect them against pathogens in the harsh environment in which they live. Among the organisms we saw, there were several organisms like baby barracuda, pinfish, pompino, shrimp (pink and brown), anchovies, american eels, tortulas, mullet, coquina, spot (a type of fish), mussels, clams, oysters, crabs (mole crabs, blue crabs, fiddler crabs), sea squirts, and flounders. On canoe day, we observed an alligator in Wilson bay while paddling.
Not only did we visit salt water environments, but we visited a fresh water environment known as a lily pond, as well. The lily pond offered an environment which provided camouflage for an assortment of organisms. The turbid waters and algae protected minnows, tadpoles, crayfish, blue gills and mosquitofish (gambusia) from predators.
In these various environments, not only did we see aquatic fauna, we also found terrestrial fauna. For example, toads, a box turtle, sea gulls, owls, a rat snake, ants, carpenter bees, water striders, wasps, dirt dobbers, dragonflies, mosquitoes, and junebugs. One of the reasons these organisms were able to thrive in these habitats because they were part of a terrestrial and marine food web connection. An example of a terrestrial and marine food web connection would be an osprey we observed diving into the water after a fish.
In conclusion, we observed great biodiversity in the different ecosystems we visited; including many different birds, sea life, and insects. Overall, we discovered that these organisms depend on the environment they live in because over time, they have adapted to their niche in their ecosystem.