Exploring North Carolina: Season 5

Seasons
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - Current

Season 5

Episode 501: Currituck Currituck

The sliver of land where Virginia, North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean meet is a place called Currituck. Over the centuries the Currituck Sound has been opened and closed to the Atlantic as inlets have opened and closed. Currituck is also as county where no incorporated towns or cities can be found.

At the beginning of the 20th Century few areas in the world held more wintering waterfowl than the Currituck, and within recent decades the sound has boasted some of the best largemouth bass fishing in America.

Even though the Northern Outer Banks is now better known for large beach homes,this episode of Exploring North Carolina examines how the area is still home to extreme biological diversity--a place where “change” is the norm.

Episode 502: Smokey Mountain DiversitySmokey Mountain

Scientists and naturalists have long known that the Southern Appalachians hold an extreme diversity of fauna and flora. This diversity became even more astonishing recently when a new "inventory" of biodiversity, conducted in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, revealed thousands of species new to the Park and hundreds of species new to science.

In this episode Exploring North Carolina will visit with the scientists most familiar with the inventory.

However, no visit to the Park would be complete without a meeting with its most popular residents: black bears. And this segment ENC will not disappoint bear lovers, examining the Park's most beloved animals.
          
This episode also contains material about another large animal with which our audiences may not be familiar…the American elk. You won't forget the haunting images of these magnificent animals in an early morning fog, having recently been reintroduced to their home territory after a 200-year absence.

Episode 503: Stuck in ClayClay

Are the sticky clay soils found in many parts of North Carolina a curse or a blessing? Red clay is as much a part of our state’s heritage as pine tar and basketball. Those who try to grow crops in clay often have a distinctly different view from those who make pottery or bricks.

With the help of renowned potter, Ben Owen III, Exploring North Carolina will help viewers understand how the lowly clay beneath our feet can also become extraordinary works of art and utility.

Whether you are a fan or a detractor of this malleable mineral, the clays of North Carolina are an important part of our heritage. From where does clay come? How does it get its color?  In this episode, ENC will visit geologists who can answer these questions.

In one way or another we are all “stuck in clay.”

Episode 504: The Forgotten KingdomKingdom

The living world is divided into plants and animals, right? What many of us never learned, or have forgotten, is that there are other "kingdoms" of living organisms. One of the "Forgotten Kingdoms" is the important group of organisms known as fungi. Across North Carolina we know them best in the form of mushrooms that pop up in our forests and on our lawns. However, fungi scientists, known as mycologists, explain that mushrooms are literally the "tip of the iceberg" and that most fungi are never seen.

These extraordinary living organisms, which incidentally are genetically more like animals than plants, remove debris from our forests, cure disease (think penicillin), make bread rise, allow us to make wine, and give flavor to our best cheeses.

Exploring North Carolina viewers learn that in the future, fungi may also make biofuels and help us make paper without harsh chemicals.

Episode 505: Bear FactsBear

The sliver of land where Virginia, North Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean meet is a place called Currituck. Over the centuries the Currituck Sound has been opened and closed to the Atlantic as inlets have opened and closed. Currituck is also as county where no incorporated towns or cities can be found.

At the beginning of the 20th Century few areas in the world held more wintering waterfowl than the Currituck, and within recent decades the sound has boasted some of the best largemouth bass fishing in America.

Even though the Northern Outer Banks is now better known for large beach homes,this episode of Exploring North Carolina examines how the area is still home to extreme biological diversity--a place where “change” is the norm.

Episode 506: Man and MammothMammoth

Scientists and naturalists have long known that the Southern Appalachians hold an extreme diversity of fauna and flora. This diversity became even more astonishing recently when a new "inventory" of biodiversity, conducted in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, revealed thousands of species new to the Park and hundreds of species new to science.

In this episode Exploring North Carolina will visit with the scientists most familiar with the inventory.

However, no visit to the Park would be complete without a meeting with its most popular residents: black bears. And this segment ENC will not disappoint bear lovers, examining the Park's most beloved animals.
          
This episode also contains material about another large animal with which our audiences may not be familiar…the American elk. You won't forget the haunting images of these magnificent animals in an early morning fog, having recently been reintroduced to their home territory after a 200-year absence.

Episode 507: 10,000 Years Before ContactClay

Are the sticky clay soils found in many parts of North Carolina a curse or a blessing? Red clay is as much a part of our state’s heritage as pine tar and basketball. Those who try to grow crops in clay often have a distinctly different view from those who make pottery or bricks.

With the help of renowned potter, Ben Owen III, Exploring North Carolina will help viewers understand how the lowly clay beneath our feet can also become extraordinary works of art and utility.

Whether you are a fan or a detractor of this malleable mineral, the clays of North Carolina are an important part of our heritage. From where does clay come? How does it get its color?  In this episode, ENC will visit geologists who can answer these questions.

In one way or another we are all “stuck in clay.”

Episode 508: Changing SandsBeach

Not all real estate in North Carolina is the same. In the mountains and Piedmont, property lines are generally fixed and unchanging. However, on the North Carolina coast it can be said that the only constant is “change.” Beaches, dunes, and inlets, especially on barrier islands, have moved and evolved over thousands of years.

With the help of some of two of this county’s most accomplished coastal geologists, Exploring North Carolina will examine the dynamic ribbons of sand that serve as buffers between the mainland and the Atlantic Ocean. Viewers will learn the geologic history of the Outer Banks and about the factors that allow these lands to move and grow. The effects of coastal storms and climate change on barrier islands will also be addressed in this episode. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about our “changing sands.”

Episode 509: Passion for the Land

Hugh Morton had a passion for the land we call North Carolina. Although he is best known for his work on Grandfather Mountain, his photography and tireless advocacy, also helped to protect and preserve vistas and natural resources across much of North Carolina’s mountain region. In this episode, Exploring North Carolina visits with some of the people who knew Hugh Morton--the photographer, naturalist, and advocate--best.

With the help of some of Mr. Morton’s extraordinary photographs, this episode also tells the story of Grandfather Mountain and nearby peaks, home to one of the most diverse concentrations of plants and animals found on Earth.  This is a story of unique geology and biodiversity "wrapped in the biography" of an extraordinary citizen.

Episode 510: Natural Boundary

Episode 511: Little Mountains

When most of us hear the phrase, "going to the mountains," we instinctively think of the peaks near Boone, Asheville, or Highlands. What we often forget is that there are other remarkable mountains in North Carolina--the "little mountains"--located in North Carolina's Piedmont near the Winston Salem, Albemarle/Asheboro, and Charlotte.

In this beautifully-illustrated episode, Exploring North Carolina takes viewers on a tour of these ancient hills that can tower over 2000 feet above the Piedmont Plateau. Just like the mountains in the west, these mountain ranges also have names, the Uwharries and the Sauratowns.  ENC will examine the geology, unique plants and animals, and social history of these "little mountains."

Episode 512: For the Birds

In 1902, a dynamic young speaker explained to a Greensboro audience that many of North Carolina’s most beautiful birds were being slaughtered for their plumes (used in hats) and that a number of other bird species needed protection. Following the meeting, 148 people signed up to form the Audubon Society of North Carolina. In 1912, the speaker, T. Gilbert Pearson, left North Carolina for New York to lead the National Association of Audubon Societies.

Much of Pearson’s work in North Carolina involved his close friend and colleague, Herbert Brimley, Director of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences. In 1919, Pearson, Brimley and Clement Brimley (Herbert’s brother) produced the Birds of North Carolina, the first major bird guide in the southern states. The Brimley brothers were also giants in the world of conservation in the first half of the 20th Century. Herbert was the first Curator and Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and served the state for almost 60 years.

In the episode, Exploring North Carolina examines the extraordinary lives and legacy of Gilbert Pearson and the brothers’ Brimley. We cross North Carolina to visit many species of birds (with special emphasis on hummingbirds) and mammals, to which they were devoted. Today, this trio is recognized in the pantheon of the most important naturalists of their time, and their influence still extends far beyond North Carolina. Theirs was a life "for the birds."