• Spring-time view of the seashore, with shorebirds returning to the surf.

    Cape Hatteras

    National Seashore North Carolina

Light Stations

Guardians of the Sea
Throughout history, the watery perils that exist off North Carolina's coast have endangered mariners as well as any ocean going passengers. Hundreds of ships have fallen prey to formidable currents, fierce storms, and shifting shoals in the infamous "Graveyard of the Atlantic." The construction of lighthouses on the Outer Banks, therefore, was crucial to protect both lives and commerce against the hazards of the sea.

Two tall coastal lights, Bodie Island and Cape Hatteras, were built in the 1870s to warn ships traveling along the Outer Banks of the dangerous shoals along the islands. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, a harbor light at the southern end of the seashore, was completed in 1823 as a light to mark Ocracoke Inlet and Silver Lake.

Today, these three light stations, so called because they have multiple buildings including a lighthouse and a keepers' dwelling, still serve as active aids-to-navigation along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Did You Know?

Lightning whelks are one of the few species of

Lightning whelks eat about one large clam per month. The whelk pries the clam open with its muscular foot, wedges the clam open with its shell, then eats the soft inside of the clam. Lightning whelk shells, which whorl to the left, wash up on the beach at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.