Jockey’s Ridge pond after a period of rain showers.

Into every life little rain must fall, and it looks as though this is the week for a little bit of rain. There should be a enough breaks in the weather to get a couple of good beach days in, but the forecast for the week is certainly wetter than it has been.

Admittedly overcast skies and rain are not the best conditions for working on a tan, although as a number of people have discovered, even on a cloudy day it’s possible get a pretty good case of sunburn. However, the Outer Banks is actually a very complex ecosystem and when there is a week of abnormally heavy rains, some truly remarkable things happen.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head seems to be a microcosm for a number of the events that happen on the Outer Banks.

At first glance the Park looks like a giant sand dune, almost desert like—and much of the park has characteristics that are similar to a desert environment. There is a wide expanse of sand with very little vegetation.

However, look more closely and an extraordinarily complex environment emerges.

Directly across from the observation deck at the end of the boardwalk there is standing water. After a period of extended rain, that pool of standing water becomes a large pond that can extend 500-600 yards to the base of Jockey’s Ridge. 

That water is ground water, not surface water. What is happening is water seeps through the sand into the aquifer and the pressure on the aquifer forces the water to the surface.

Almost immediately plant life explodes around the pond, giving it a verdant green look. And, which may be the coolest thing of all, the Eastern Spadefoot Frog emerges. 

The spade foot frog is dormant during hot dry spells, only emerging when conditions are right for reproduction, at which point the Jockey’s Ridge species can go from egg to adult in two weeks.

Remarkable. Worth checking out.