Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks

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Overview

"Alexander and Lazell's delightful study of North Carolina's Outer Banks contains a wealth of statistics and facts . . . A Ribbon of Sand—written in romantic prose—is more like a novel. . . . Small and lightweight with chapters of less than 20 pages, this is the perfect book to take on a trip to the North Carolina coast. Interesting and informative, you'll look at a grain of sand or a wave with a whole new perspective."—TasteFull

Ribbon of Sand is a rich and beautifully written ...

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Ribbon of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean and the Outer Banks

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Overview

"Alexander and Lazell's delightful study of North Carolina's Outer Banks contains a wealth of statistics and facts . . . A Ribbon of Sand—written in romantic prose—is more like a novel. . . . Small and lightweight with chapters of less than 20 pages, this is the perfect book to take on a trip to the North Carolina coast. Interesting and informative, you'll look at a grain of sand or a wave with a whole new perspective."—TasteFull

Ribbon of Sand is a rich and beautifully written exploration of the unique natural history and romantic past of the Outer Banks, the fragile barrier islands that stretch for almost two hundred miles down the North Carolina coast. A new preface discusses recent developments on the Banks, including the discovery and excavation of a wreck believed to be Blackbeard's ship and the continuing threat of offshore oil drilling, and throughout the book the authors reveal the controversies, natural wonders, and fascinating legends that make the Outer Banks one of the nation's most beloved treasures.

The authors examine the lessons that North Carolina's Outer Banks have to teach anyone seeking to understand the natural and human dynamics of America's threatened barrier islands. Only in recent years have scientists begun to understand how the Banks were formed and how they continue to be shaped by an unusual confluence of ocean currents, wave action, winds, and sand. 27 maps and illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Leaves the reader with a clear sense of place and an understanding of the forces of wind and water.

Publishers Weekly

This is a guidebook to be taken along when exploring this fragile place that deserves to be preserved.

Booklist

This book provides gentle yet informative reading to round out a portrait of the Outer Banks.

Audubon Naturalist News

This fine book paints a distinct portrait of a delicate ecosystem and how humans have forever affected it.

In Southern Words

A beautifully drawn picture of 'the resiliency and self-correcting mechanism of the natural order' at work on the Outer Banks.

Outer Banks Magazine

In Southern Words
Whether describing Nature's part in Blackbeard's dramatic last battle or explaining the environmental issues of today's coast, this fine book paints a distinct portrait of a delicate ecosystem and how humans have forever affected it.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
North Carolina's Outer Banks region, 180 miles of shifting sands, has both a romantic past--including the lost colony of Roanoke Island, the Wright brothers, pirates and shipwrecks--and a unique natural history. Alexander, a former newspaper editor, and naturalist Lazell, president of the Conservation Agency, examine this fragile ecosystem and unravel an evolutionary mystery. Explaining the actions of ocean currents, winds and waves, they show how island contours change, how inlets open and close. They describe the fauna and flora of maritime forests and beaches and search for a rare Ocracoke king snake, sticticeps. Their finding it yields an engrossing story of field science and discloses a remarkable example of relatively recent co-evolution (snake, rice rat, warmyrtle) . The authors also chart the changes brought by development of the island. As natural history or as description of barrier islands, this book leaves the reader with a clear sense of place and an understanding of the forces of wind and water. Illustrations. (May)
Library Journal
In a popular style of science writing that will appeal to lay readers, the authors discuss the history, geography, and ecology of North Carolina's Outer Banks in the context of barrier island geology and ecology. Among the topics they explore are the interactions of wind, sea, sand, and land on the Outer Banks, the influence of the Gulf Stream, geological development, and the ecological role of the maritime forest. Line drawings of native flora and fauna and maps (not seen) accompany the text. Alexander, a journalist, and Lazell, a scientist, love the unspoiled Outer Banks and warn of possible threats to the area. A useful supplement to more specialized studies (Orrin H. Pilkey's From Currituck to Calabash, Duke Univ. Pr, 1982, and Paul V. Godfrey's Barrier Island Ecology of Cape Lookout National Seashore and Vicinity, N. Carolina, G.P.O., 1976), this work is suitable for natural history collections in public and academic libraries.-- Judith B. Barnett, Pell Marine Science Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Kingston
Booknews
A fascinating account of the natural and human history and the ecology of the elongated beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which stretch down the Atlantic Coast a hundred miles to the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, then southwestward in an 80-mile arc to Cape Lookout--islands of sand, never more than a few miles wide. Lightly illustrated. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807848746
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 5/22/2000
  • Series: Chapel Hill Books Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 731,147
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

John Alexander has worked as a journalist and is now president of the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina.

James Lazell is president of The Conservation Agency and lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

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Table of Contents

1992 John Alexander and James Lazell; Preface CONTENTS

Preface
Acknowledgments

Chapter One: Sand
Chapter Two: Land
Chapter Three: Water
Chapter Four: Blackbeard
Chapter Five: Woods
Chapter Six: Trilogy
Chapter Seven: Flight
Chapter Eight: Convergences

References
Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Mangrove

    She filled a hollowed stone with water and slowly poured it over coral. The seawater helped return a little feeling to corals legs. She filled a bucket of water and made it colder. She picked up coral and flew back.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 14, 2012

    Ribbons of Sand is no masterpiece in terms of writing. It is, in

    Ribbons of Sand is no masterpiece in terms of writing. It is, in my opinion, average or slightly above. However, I believe that may lend to the book’s effectiveness. The sentences are generally clear and concise, without flowery writing to get in the way. In this it is both scientific and readable, two aspects that often seem mutually exclusive to many. Topics like the geology of the Banks or the forces that shape them are not off limits to the average reader. 

    This geology and the formation of the Outer Banks is perhaps one of the most fascinating topics in the book. Unlike any other barrier reefs or islands in the world, these banks do not have a Pleistocene coral base. As described in Chapter 2, a graduate student named Robert Dolan undertook “a research project near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina” at the urging of one of his doctoral professors. Over the course of a year “he drilled 140 holes, some of them up to 100 ft deep” (20). His findings revealed that the banks were no older than 5000 years and comprise entirely of Holocene (the current period) sand. As described in the same chapter, the geography of the United States east coast is the catalyst of the Outer Banks’ formation. The combination of shallow, sloping continental shelf, “elbow capes,” and rising sea creates perfect conditions for the deposition of sand just off the coast of North Carolina. It’s amazing to me that something as simple as the shape of a coastline can have such a drastic effect on the surrounding geography. For contrast, the authors point out that Brazil has a similar continental shelf, but the lack of elbow capes keeps the reef from form barrier islands like those in North Carolina.

    I was waiting for the clarity to turn into scientific jargon and the humanly prose to turn sterile. Neither happened. Instead I was pleasantly surprised with an insightful, comprehensive, and varied study on one of North America’s most interesting natural phenomena. Ribbons of Sand: The Amazing Convergence of the Ocean & the Outer Banks is a book that anyone with an interest in geography, the Outer Banks, or the amazing interactions of nature should pick up. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2001

    Natural History Tour de Force

    For those who like an understanding of the connectedness of living things and their environment, this book is a gem. Having read Ribbon of Sand while touring the coastal strand and maritime forest on Cape Hatteras, I felt much more informed by this account than by other, more simple travelogues. The authors do an excellent job of explaining in simple, clear language how water, wind and sand have shaped the Outer Banks, and what a future of rising sea levels and increasing human use may bring. The discussion of Outer Banks kingsnakes and how they have evolved is elegant and fun.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

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