One of the more hidden state reserves is located in the located in the extreme southwestern portion of Onslow County. Permuda Island is a small narrow island that sits in between the barrier Tosail Island and mainland town of Holly Ridge in the middle of Stump Sound, landward of Topsail Island. This site contains only about 50 acres of upland, and is approximately 1.5 miles in length. The estuarine waters of Stump Sound and the barrier island that borders it protects the island from high-energy ocean waves.
Prehistoric Native Americans in the area used the site's resources liberally, including the oysters, clams, scallops, crabs, and whelks that surrounded the island, and left thick deposits of shell refuse along the site's waters. These grounds have led archaeologists to conclude that the earliest occupation on Permuda Island most likely occurred as early as 300 B.C.
The earliest documented "owner" of the property is widely thought to be John Baptista Ashe, and it is speculated that Permuda Island was probably originally part of a large and poorly defined patent granted to him in 1726.
On the higher grounds of the property, above the supratidal salt marsh, the shrub thicket community features small areas of stunted trees and shrubs that survive well in coastal areas, such as live oak, red cedar, yaupon, and silverling.
The center part of the island, well away from salt marsh overflow, contains former agriculture fields, long since deserted. Here, large clusters of broomsedge, dog fennel, asters, goldenrods, and Mexican tea, thrive. In the Stump Sound estuary, fishes, shrimp, crabs, clams, and oysters use the calmer waters as a nursery ground.
Willetts, American oystercatchers, egrets, herons, black skimmers, and sandpipers are common in the mud flats and marshes, and higher grounds create a home for sparrows, warblers, and other songbirds. Raccoons, marsh rabbits, and cotton rats are common in the site as well, and river otters can sometimes be spotted in the marshy areas.
How to get there
Though it was inhabited for thousands of years, Permuda Island is now deserted and may only be reached by a boat. There are a number of public and private boat ramps available, however, which are located along the sound side of Topsail Island, as well as on the mainland bordering Stump Sound.
Terms: State Reserves: Permuda Island
Information on State Reserves: Permuda Island