A new island has appeared off the coast of North Carolina almost overnight. While this seems impossible, a small sandbar that was once described as a “little bump” is now an island. Pretty cool, right?
The island is roughly one-mile-long and is located off the coast of Cape Point in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Cape Point is known for its incredible fishing. It also has some of the island's best shelling, sightseeing and sunsets.
According to visitor Janice Regan, some have nicknamed the new island "Shelly island." She told the Virginian Pilot that it was actually her grandson who came up with the name. He named it “Shelly Island” because it is a perfect spot to collect seashells.
The hunt for shells is what brought people to the island in the first place. Photographer Chad Koczera was on vacation when the discovered the island. He was looking for shells with his fiance in the area when they spotted the island.
They saw the island from afar but realized that they couldn't get there by foot. "We originally headed that way to collect shells after a storm," Koczera told CNN Travel. When they got to the area they found a lot more than just some shells.
The crescent-shaped island first surfaced off the coast of Cape Point in the spring. Just a few months later, it is now more than a mile long. What was once only a small sandbar is now an island that is more than 400 feet wide.
The sandbar was originally formed because of a combination of strong currents and storms. Its formation sounds amazing to us, but it is nothing out of the ordinary for that area. Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, told The Virginian Pilot that Cape Point's shoreline is constantly changing.
Shell hunters have been eager to get there to collect new shells. Sunbathers have flocked to the island for peace and quiet. Anglers want to see what they can fish and photographers are excited to explore the beauty of the untouched isle.
Many locals and visitors have flocked to the island to explore in the last few weeks. With all this new exploration and interest, officials have warned people that they should not attempt to swim to the island. The waters surrounding Shelly Island are deep and the current is strong.
While visitors are welcomed to the new spot, but should be careful when visiting. So, how can visitors get there safely? Hallac told CNN Travel that "travel to the sandbar is best accomplished by experienced kayakers or paddleboarders that are using appropriate floatation and mindful of the strong currents in the area.”
According to Hallac, it is not just the currents that are dangerous to visitors. They should also watch their step. Because the area is such a hot spot for fishing, it is likely that there could be discarded fishing hooks hidden in the sands.
There are also predators in the water surrounding the island as well. Bill Smith, president of the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, says that five-foot-long sharks and stingrays "as large as the hood of a truck" have also been spotted in the shallow waters surrounding the island.
With all the obstacles that could come their way, visitors have been braving the waters to explore the area. They are taking the necessary precautions in order to explore the ever-changing Cape coastline. Some things are just worth it!
No one knows what the future holds for this new little island. It’s shape could evolve and grow and connect to the mainland or it could disappear completely just as fast as it appeared. I guess we will just have to wait and see.