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Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras

Cape Hatteras is a cape on the coast of North Carolina. It is the point that protrudes the farthest to the southeast along the northeast-to-southwest line of the Atlantic coast of North America. Two major Atlantic currents collide just off Cape Hatteras, the southerly-flowing cold water Labrador Current and the northerly-flowing warm water Florida Current (Gulf Stream), creating turbulent waters and a large expanse of shallow sandbars extending up to 14 miles (23 km) offshore. These shoals are known as Diamond Shoals. Because mariners utilize ocean currents to speed their journey, many ships venture close to Cape Hatteras when traveling along the eastern seaboard, risking the perils of sailing close to the shoals amid turbulent water and the frequent storms occurring in the area. So many ships have been lost off Cape Hatteras that the area is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic". Somewhat analogous to Point Conception in Southern California, this on-the-edge placement at the confluence of the Labrador and Florida currents leads to unusually diverse biological assemblages. Many species’ ranges have either a southern or northern terminus at the cape.