Thursday, August 27, 2015

Watering Holes

Last month I mentioned the Outer Banks wild ponies. Visitors to the island often wonder how these small horses traditionally found water to drink. After all, there are no fresh water streams, ponds, or springs on Ocracoke. Besides, marsh ponies eat great quantities of salt marsh grass, so they need to drink water about every three hours.

Photo by Charlie F on Yelp

Sometimes, of course, rain puddles provide fresh water for the ponies. When that source of water is not available the horses have learned to dig drinking holes by pawing at the sand with their hooves. They tap into the rainwater runoff that is stored in a shallow "freshwater lens" that floats above brackish underground water.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of whale and porpoise fishing on  the Outer Banks. You can read the story here:


  1. Anonymous9:40 AM

    So people feed birds, stray cats bring carrots to horses in a pasture, the folks of the city of Charleston have water bowls for the dogs in town on leashes and the like on the mainland and the peoples of OI don't provide watering stations for the wild ponies?? Is there some rule mandating such

    1. Please note that I wrote about how the wild horses "traditionally found water." Until the mid-1950s there were several hundred wild "ponies" that fended for themselves in the uninhabited parts of the island. There was no way to care for them in that wild state, although a few wandered into the village. My family always kept a large galvanized tub filled with water along a footpath. The horses came by there to drink. Today, for their protection from traffic, the animals are maintained (including watered and fed) by the National Park Service in a large pasture midway on the island.