Island Habitats


Bald Head Island is hailed as one of the last remaining North Carolina barrier islands where one can walk uninterrupted through salt marsh, maritime forest, dunes, and beach habitats.  These four habitats all serve a purpose that makes BHI’s ecosystem so unique.
The Dunes serve as a natural barrier to the destructive forces of the winds and waves and are the first line of defense against coastal storms and beach erosion.  They help protect other habitats such as the Martime Forest.    The forest has a mix of old growth trees, shrubs, and more developed soils which bind the sand to provide the greatest stability and erosion control of any barrier island habitat.  Together, these two habitats help preserve and protect BHI.
In addition to the Dunes and the Martime Forest , there is also Freshwater and Salt Marsh habitats.  The Freshwater habitats on BHI serve as the home to a wide variety of species from insects, amphibians and reptiles, to fish, birds, turtles and alligators.  The Salt Marsh lines the leeward side of barrier island and is an estuary that serves as a nursery to most of the near-shore creatures of the ocean, and feed any of the mammals and birds that life on the coast.  It also acts as a sponge and filter to keep our waterways clean.
With the variety of habitats on BHI, there is always something new to see or learn.  Visit our event calendar to see what you can discover at the Conservancy.