352 words • 2~2 min read

Ocean of Pseudoscience Shorty – Banker Horses and Spanish Galleons

Banker Horses are a breed of horses found on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. These feral horses grace one of our rotating banners. Legend goes that 16th century Spanish Galleons, heavy with treasure, were wrecked off the coast of North Carolina. The horses escaped from the wreck, settled on the Outer Banks, and thrived for 400 years. But how much of this story is really true and how much is fiction invented for tourists?

The idea that the horses came from treasure galleons can be immediately discounted. Space was at a premium on these boats and was reserved for treasure, not live stock. But there is some truth in this myth. Banker Horses are originally from Spanish stocks and they have been on the Outer Banks since the 16th century.

There are two possible origins for this population. In 1526, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón attempted to colonize North and South Carolina. The colony eventually failed and the surviving colonists fled, leaving their horses behind. Later, in 1585, Sir Richard Grenville brought nearly 100 horses to North Carolina. One of his ships ran aground near the Outer Banks, and to lighten the ship they abandoned some livestock on Ocracoke.

~Southern Fried Scientist


Deep-sea biologist, population/conservation geneticist, backyard farm advocate. The deep sea is Earth's last great wilderness.


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