Beaufort is a town in Carteret County, North Carolina, United States. Established in 1709, it is the third-oldest town in North Carolina. The population was 4,189 at the 2008 census and it is the county seat of Carteret County. It is sometimes confused with a city of the same name in South Carolina; the two are distinguished by different pronunciations. Beaufort is located in North Carolina's Inner Banks region. The town is home to the North Carolina Maritime Museum. It is also home to the Duke University Marine Laboratory, where scientists study the marine environment and develop solutions to conservation problems in coastal and oceanic ecosystems.