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Photography Book Captures Coastal Beauty

North Carolina’s Barrier Islands: Wonders of Sand, Sea, and Sky. Photo: UNC Press

In a book published by the University of North Carolina Press, “North Carolina’s Barrier Islands: Wonders of Sand, Sea, and Sky,” nature photographer and ecologist David Blevins offers a visual journey to North Carolina’s barrier islands through more than 150 photographs of the dynamic areas. From snow geese midflight to vistas along otherworldly dunes, Blevins has captured the natural diversity of the North Carolina coast in detail.

The full-color images were photographed in Currituck Banks, the Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores and islands of the southern coast. The book not only captures the beauty of these natural features, but also serves as an appeal for their conservation in the face of an uncertain future.

A loggerhead sea turtle pauses to rest before disappearing into the surf, leaving only her tracks, which mirror the Milky Way above. Photo: David Blevins, UNC Press

The book also features photographs of wild horses from along the state’s coast, dazzling sunsets and text that explains the history and value of the barrier islands. Detailed captions accompanying the photos illustrate the natural scenes, inviting the reader to walk along the beaches, dunes, marshes, tidal creeks and maritime forests with Blevins.

The book documents the effects of encroaching human development, including a photo of a destroyed N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island, where Chickinacommock Inlet once existed, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Another photograph shows the contrast between the wild, untouched dunes of Bird Island compared to the developed shoreline of Myrtle Beach in the distance.

Coastal wildlife captured in the photographs mostly documents birds, including sanderlings looking for food along a shoreline, brown pelicans sitting on their eggs in a nesting colony, a tricolored pelican perched on a branch and royal terns standing guard over their chicks. The elusive painted bunting makes an appearance towards the end of the book, like a present best saved for last.

Among the book’s most unique photographs is that of a loggerhead sea turtle making her way back to the water with the Milky Way in the night sky above her.

Blevins is also the author of “Wild North Carolina: Discovering the Wonders of Our State’s Natural Communities.”

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.