PAMLICO SOUND, N.C. — In the days leading up to Hurricane Dorian’s landfall off the North Carolina coast, stories spread of how the coast’s wild horses rely on their instincts to survive hurricanes.
In the wake of the hurricane, however, it seems those instincts could not save the young of one Crystal Coast herd.
The Charlotte Observer reports 28 wild horses of the Cedar Island herd, mostly the younger ones, lost their lives as floodwaters rapidly overtook their home.
Less than half of the lesser-known 49-horse herd survived.
The death toll came in as their bodies, marked with their herd’s brand, washed onto the shore. Others remain missing and are presumed dead.
According to the Observer, herd manager Woody Hancock said some of the horses managed to swim from Pamlico Sound to other islands.
“It was a mini tsunami,” Hancock said to the McClatchy news group. “The horses normally see the water start to rise in a storm and migrate to higher ground, but they just didn’t have time. The shift in the wind happened too fast and they were taken off guard and washed off the island. They didn’t have a chance.”
The Corolla and Shackleford Banks herds, which are better known, survived the storm with no reported losses.
The Shackleford Banks herd actually got bigger around the time of the storm as a new foal was born.
“She was born sometime around the storm but we cannot say for sure if it was before, during or after,” Cape Lookout National Seashore said in a Facebook post.