Before the construction of lighthouses in the 1800s, North Carolina’s outer banks became the resting place for hundreds of vessels lost during storms. Most of these wrecks are located around Cape Hatteras, in an area also known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

A sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) surrounded by round scad (Decapterus punctatus) above a wreck covered in soft coral. North Carolina is a dream dive destination.
A sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) surrounded by round scad (Decapterus punctatus) above a wreck covered in soft coral. North Carolina is a dream dive destination.

I’m not a wreck diver. So when my friend first asked me to join him on a dive trip to North Carolina, I was unexcited. Then, stories of wrecks covered in colorful soft corals and packed with fish life sparked my interest. But it was the dazzling images of sand tiger sharks covered in baitfish that finally got me to book my trip to Morehead City.

Located close to the warm, nutrient-rich waters of the gulf stream; the wrecks of North Carolina have developed into productive artificial  reefs. The best wrecks lie 15-20 miles off-shore and require 2–3 hour boat rides. The area is prone to rough seas, poor visibility and strong currents. Olympus Diving has large, comfortable boats and the practical knowledge to tackle these challenges beyond expectations.

A sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) surrounded by tomtates (Haemulon aurolineatum) and round scad (Decapterus punctatus) on a wreck in North Carolina.
A sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) surrounded by tomtates (Haemulon aurolineatum) and round scad (Decapterus punctatus) on a wreck in North Carolina.

The stars of the show are the sand tigers that aggregate on the wrecks during the summer months. These docile sharks have a unique ecological role; providing constant protection for baitfish, such as round scad (Decapterus punctatus), from predators, such as jacks and tuna. The closer the predators, the closer the baitfish huddle around the sharks. The dynamic behavior between shark and baitfish against the wreck backdrop creates near limitless photographic opportunities and makes these wrecks a truly epic place to dive. Favorite images from my dive trip to North Carolina.