For a couple years I’ve been driving past the construction site of Hatteras Island’s newest bridge. Called the Jug Handle because of its shape, it bypasses a section of highway 12 that’s been constantly washed out by the ocean. Like most bridges, construction began from two terminal locations, to ultimately meet in the middle. For me, it’s a chance to shoot some interesting pictures.
Ten days ago as the north terminus was nearing its south counterpart, I took a photo from the dunes across the highway.
A week later I shot a similar photograph from a closer vantage point along the sound side shoreline.
The cranes are enormous.
Water depth along the route is only a few feet deep, too shallow to work from a barge, so a trestle system was built along each side to accommodate machinery. This is the south end working its way northward.
Giant pilings are delivered on the north end where workers bridle them to a crane for lifting.
On the lower end, the 150 foot pile is secured in a pivotal yoke as it’s lifted.
It is transferred to a towering frame where it’s driven precisely into the sandy bottom.
A pile driver is placed on top to pound it the desired depth.
It looked like each impact drove the piling several feet. The two bridge ends will soon be connected. The 2.4 mile roadway is scheduled for opening early 2022.
A pound net is a fish trap that corrals fish into a pen where they are kept alive. They swim in the enclosure until they can be bailed out. In 1977 some commercial fishing friends of mine were setting up a pound net.
Eddie O’Neal, Ed Corley and Asa Gray were partners in this venture. They worked under the name Easy Money Fish Company, and constructed their net in an area of the Pamlico Sound, known as Scott’s Reef.
On a calm day, I rode out with Ed to check it out. They weren’t catching much at the time, but I photographed the basic layout shooting Panatomic-X, a fine grained black and white film.
The fish follow a portion of the net called a lead, which channels them into a pound where they cannot escape.
They’re penned in until the fishermen come to get them. Any unwanted or protected species are then released alive into open waters. Despite the labor intensive work to set up, a pound net is an efficient way to catch fish.
Thirty-five years later I photographed another net near Ocracoke Island. With commercial fishing getting to be a more difficult livelihood, there doesn’t seem to be as many as there used to be.
Years ago, Eddie O’Neal (1982) and Ed Corley (1985) died in separate weather-related commercial fishing incidents. Asa Gray passed away in 2018 after many decades as a waterman. How those guys loved to fish!
December of 1985 I went on a three day fishing trip with Captain Terry Saunders aboard the 80 foot trawler, Richard Wayne. Based in Wanchese, he was going offshore, dragging for winter flounder. For two days, productivity was moderate with calm seas.
That night, lying in a forepeak bunk I felt changes in the tempo of the waves. By early morning the wind had freshened from the northeast making for some choppy conditions.
Stevie Daniels’ Bailey Boy fished nearby.
The captains discussed navigating the narrow shoaling channel at Oregon Inlet before conditions deteriorated further.
They decided to cut the trip short, head back and not take unnecessary chances, crossing the shallow bar into the inlet. I shot Bailey Boy heading over the shoal as it followed us home.
My friend Eric caught this horseshoe crab in his nets. In order to grow, it was shedding its hardshell to temporarily become a soft-shell. Island life constantly reveals wonders in nature.
The Summer of 1980 I went on an excursion in a 14 foot skiff with photographer friends Ray Matthews and Foster Scott. We launched the boat from Ocracoke and began to explore the inlet and some small islands. One island especially attracted us. Known as Beacon Island, it was once the site of a small brick lighthouse in the mid-1800’s.
Breeding pelicans were first observed on Beacon in 1928, but the population ran into trouble with widespread use of DDT which weakened the shells, causing mortalities as the birds numbers plummeted. Following the ban of DDT in 1972, brown pelicans began making a dramatic comeback.
One morning, I used a 20mm Nikkor lens on an F2 to photograph the nest site on the opposite side of the island.
Then attaching a 400mm Novoflex lens I caught this one returning to its nest.
We used the island as a base camp, and explored surrounding waters and islands for three days. At the time, research was being conducted on Beacon as it was the northernmost nesting site for brown pelicans on the east coast. Since then the island has come under the ownership and protection of Audubon North Carolina. Today pelican nesting on Beacon is prolific.