The undeveloped barrier islands of Cape Lookout are home to multiple protected species. Four different sea turtle species have been found swimming by the islands: Green sea turtles, Loggerhead sea turtles, Leatherback sea turtles, and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. These sea turtle species are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Visitors may also see piping plovers and American oystercatchers flying around the islands. Both bird species are protected. The piping plover is listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act and the American oystercatcher is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. If you visit Shackleford Banks, you may have the opportunity to see the Shackleford Horses. In 1998, the Shackleford Horses became protected under the Shackleford Banks Wild Horse Protection Act. Through the Resource Management department, sea turtles, piping plovers, American oystercatchers, and the Shackleford Horses are all monitored. Before you go to the islands, read more about each species below. The annual reports for these monitoring efforts can be found on the Wildlife Management page.
Last updated: January 25, 2023