Naturalist and photographer Sam Bland camped at Cape Lookout National Seashore last weekend to document the rise of May’s full moon near the park’s iconic lighthouse. He tells the story of that day in the following slideshow of photos and captions.
While setting up my tent I thought I saw something quickly dart across the sand and disappear. Upon investigation, I located a tiny baby ghost crab expertly camouflaged among the sand and broken fragments of sea shells. In 1940, a biologist once described this creature as “an occult, secretive alien from the ancient depths of the sea.”
At the edge of the surf, a lone black-belied plover foraged among the swash of the incoming waves. Vigilant of my presence it quickly took to flight. Other shorebirds that feed along with this plover benefit from its cautious nature of acting as an alarm.
As I reclined against my backpack eating my dinner two laughing gulls zeroed in on me as an easy mark. However, they soon left disappointed as I paid them no mind.
While observing the sun set over Lookout Bight, I turned to see that the full moon had lifted above the horizon and was rising parallel to the base of the lighthouse.
Once the moon was high in the sky it showered everything in a bright silvery glow. A light left on in the old keepers quarters made the house seem alive, maybe the ghosts from the past were enjoying the night.
Walking back to the beach, I paused to look back at the lighthouse. I imagined the keeper slowly walking up the dark spiral stairwell then emerging onto the catwalk into the brightness of the full moon.
As I approached the beach, the lightness of the night intensified from the reflection of the moon beams off the surface of the ocean. The ocean shimmered as if a powerful search light was scanning the incoming swells. The constant crashing of waves sounded like thunder from a distant storm.
It was easy to find my tent out on the beach, a flashlight wasn’t necessary. The moon penetrated so brightly into the tent that I had to place a hat over my eyes to help me fall asleep.
I rose early and hiked down the beach with the moon now setting behind Core banks and on the opposite side of the lighthouse. As the moon slipped closer to the horizon it became tinged with orange as the rising sun applied the color. It soon slipped into the waters of Lookout Bight and the night was over.