UNC Institute of Marine Sciences

On the Edge: Life on North Carolina's Reefs

Most people associate reef systems with tropical islands and warm, shallow waters. 

However, those are coral reefs—reefs made of living creatures.

Believe it or not, there are two unique reef systems off the North Carolina coast. They are made of rock but they are still reefs, and while they aren't made of ocean life, they are covered with it. 

The first system is found primarily on the edge of the continental shelf, about 75 miles offshore. There are smaller systems rising periodically from the ocean floor about 40 miles off the coast as well. 

Shark Tagging

More than a dozen different types of sharks live off the North Carolina coast. Researchers with the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences have caught and studied them since 1972, creating one of the largest databases of coastal sharks in the nation.

Oh Shuck!

Raw oysters, delicious with hot sauce, can carry a bacteria that makes people very sick. Researchers are working to better understand Vibrio bacteria and create a warning system for oystermen, which would alert them to the best and worst times to harvest oysters.