Cape Hatteras National Seashore supports a vast array of animal life in its aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Whales, sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, and many fish species abound in the Atlantic Ocean. Speckled trout, gray trout, bluefish, stripers, black drum, red drum, cobia, spadefish, spot croaker, false albacore, king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, flounder, sea mullet, and pompano are among the fish species reeled in by surf fishermen in the summer and fall. Shellfish, crabs, cottonmouth snakes, waterfowl, wading birds, and nutria are frequently encountered in the tidal marshes, while the green anoles, black rat snakes, and white-tailed deer scatter across the land.
Life also abounds in the air above the park with over 360 documented bird species enjoying the Seashore’s habitats - be it for nesting, resting, or feeding. Located on a major avian migratory route known as the Atlantic Flyway, the park was designated as a Globally Important Bird Area in 1999 by the American Bird Conservancy in recognition of the value the seashore provides to bird migration, breeding, and wintering.
Did You Know?
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.