The eastern portion of Carteret County is a forty mile narrow stretch of sand, low lands, and tidal marshes surrounded by saltwater creeks, bays and some of the nation’s largest estuaries. No fewer than ten small communities ranging from Bettie and Otway to Sea Level and Cedar Island are connected by thin ribbons of shoulderless highways and two lane bridges and water all around. For years these communities east of the North River Bridge on US Highway 70 lay isolated with the family boat being the only means of connecting neighboring towns and communities. Making a living from the water was the primary means of putting food on the table. Fishing defined these communities and their residents. The people who still live at the edge of these waters know the beauty and power of the ocean. It gave them life, gives them hope and makes them strong.
Other documentary projects on this area have focused on the decline of commercial fishing and the loss of cultural heritage. While it is true the heyday of commercial fishing has ended here, the residents of these tightly knit communities carry on with their lives, young and old. Some still commercial fish, others work off-island, and all still have dreams of the future. The Off Season – East of the Bridge explores the current state of the physical and cultural landscape in the eastern portion of Carteret County highlighting what is there today, not what was lost yesterday.
All images © Scott Taylor all rights reserved.