Owls Creek-Rudee Inlet Watershed

Owl Creek runs behind the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and joins the Rudee Inlet to flow into the Atlantic Ocean.

  • The Owls Creek watershed is the smallest of the watersheds in the city.
  • It’s bounded roughly by 19th Street to the north and Camp Pendleton to the south; and Birdneck Road to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.


Size (shoreline and acreage drained)
  • Roughly 3,000 acres, 1.5% of the city
Population Density
  • Much of the land is commercial, city and state owned and military, so low population density
Land Use (urban/rural)
  • This watershed is highly populated with businesses and homes on the east side, the military base on the southwest.  It encompasses marinas, resort hotels and restaurants, mixed with open wetland areas.
% owned by state or Federal
  • The majority of the watershed is owned by the state and federal governments.
Names of Federal or State properties
  • Camp Pendleton
  • Oceana Naval Air Station
Major Bodies of Water and Salinity
  • Rudee Inlet- brackish- maintained through dredging
  • Owls Creek
  • Lake Rudee- Salt
  • Lake Christine-Freshwater
  • Lake Holly- Freshwater
  • Lake Wesley- borrow pit for sand replenishment- Salt
  • Lunar Tidal
Recreation Areas (access points, natural areas, parks)
  • Virginia Aquarium
  • Marshview Park
  • Owls Creek Preservation Area
  • Owls Creek Boat ramp
  • Rudee Inlet Station Marina
Flora and Fauna
  • Evening primrose, beardtongue, cypress trees, salicornia
  • Pilot Online
  • “The Lookdown” Newsletter, December 7, 1987
    • Volume 7, Number 2 Virginia Marine Science Museum
Urban Tree Canopy
  • 35.4%
  • Urban Tree Canopy analysis 2008 Data
  • Owls Creek Preservation area
    Owls Creek marsh is a high salinity marsh because of its proximity to the ocean. The salinity range is typically 20-30 ppt, with lower salinities found immediately after rainfall.
  • Many areas of Non-tidal wetlands, especially along the edges of the Naval air station.
  • Eagles nest along Owl’s creek, Herons, Egrets, Mergansers, ducks, Osprey, otters, nutria, sand shrimp, bay anchovies, blue crabs, spot, weakfish, blue mussels, tautog, croaker, trout, seahorses, lookdown fish (see checklist in Lookdown newsletter, Dec 1987)
  • “The Lookdown” Newsletter, December 7, 1987
    • Volume 7, Number 2 Virginia Marine Science Museum
Soil Characteristics
Other Organisms
Background Information
  • Owls Creek- originally called Old’s Creek (1767)-named for a prominent Princess Anne family.  In 19th Century deed book called it Owl’s Creek.
  • In June of 2013 people were invited to work alongside archeologists from The James River Institute of Archaeology to uncover a 17th c. Colonial homestead.  Lots of artifacts from that time period and older were found. An native spearhead from 3000BC was also found.
  • Seatack Community History- originally settled by African Americans in late 1700s-early 1800s-owned their own farms and built their own homes. Formed the first school for Negro Children at Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Seatack Citizens later provided the land for the original Seatack Elementary School that opened in 1952.
  • Black men were appointed Air Raid Wardens to protect the little town of VB during WW II
  • Returning veterans built the first black-owned and operated fire department ever to exist in the US- known as the Seatack volunteer Fire Department.
  • Seatack was named from the words Sea Attack because it was the point on the coast of rural Princess Anne County where the community was the target of cannonballs fired from British ships and was where troops came ashore during an attack in the War of 1812.
  • This watershed has undergone extensive changes over the last 100 years.
  • Areas known as Lake Wesley, Lake Rudee and Owls Creek were shallow marshy area. Depth was only about 18 inches deep.
    • (see Lookdown Article for all the changes that happen in this area)
  • Railroad came through this area near Lake Holly. Remnants of the track are still existent. 
  • “The Lookdown” Newsletter, December 7, 1987
    • Volume 7, Number 2 Virginia Marine Science Museum

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