June 26, 2017

New Island off of Cape Point Creating a National Stir


Cape Hatteras point and the new sandbar island #capepoint

A post shared by 🅲🅷🅰🅳 (@chadonka) on

This photo, which has circulated in papers around the country, was originally taken by Chad Koczera. A Connecticut resident and regular Hatteras Island visitor, Chad was on vacation with his fiancée when he took this incredible aerial view of the "new" island.

The island that has surfaced off of Cape Point in the last couple months has become a media sensation.

First noticed by local and visiting fishermen in the spring, and brought to national attention last week by an article in the Virginia Pilot, the island has since been featured in US News and World Report, Travel and Leisure, the Raleigh-based News and Observer, Fox News Travel, and a world of other print and online publications.

The island, which measures roughly a mile long depending on the tide and weather conditions, is located just off the very tip of Cape Point, and formed in the past two months after being first spotted as just a “bump” in April.

Since being discovered, countless visitors and locals have made the trek to see if the weeks of rumors about the island’s existence – as well as the stories that it’s a haven for shells – are true.

The answer to both questions appears to be yes.

Photos of pick-up truck beds that are stuffed with assorted whelks and even a helmet conch or two have made waves on social media, and have enticed more than one beachcomber to make a trip to the Point in the hopes of landing similar finds.

But as reported by numerous sources and media outlets, getting to the island is not without its dangers, and the channel of water that separates the island from the rest of the Point changes on a regular basis.

On a recent windy day at high tide, the buffer of water was swift and deep, and the island was completely bare as most visitors opted to fish on the Point proper, and not risk the trek to the outlaying island.

Conversely, just two days later on a clear Sunday afternoon, the new “Off-Point” island was brimming with shell-seekers, photographers, and other curious visitors who wanted to walk on this new addition to the local landscape for themselves.

This increase in national attention certainly shines a spotlight on Hatteras Island, and brings more attention to the unique nature of the local shorelines, but officials and locals alike are also concerned about the potential hazards for visitors who are unfamiliar with the area.

Hooks from decades of anglers who flock to the East Coast’s most popular surf fishing beach can be lying at the bottom of the ocean floor, and the swift currents that shaped the island to begin with can make reaching the island – or getting back – nearly impossible.

Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, publically cautioned visitors not to try to walk or swim to the island, and many recent visitors agree the best way to get there is via a kayak, paddle board, or a similar vessel that requires a bit of man power to navigate. Even then, the currents of the sometimes 50-yard wide channel can be challenging, (and both sharks and sting rays have been spotted in the area), so caution – and a little experience – will go a long way in reaching the new island.

Just as there was no way to predict that the island would pop up, there’s also no way to determine how long it will stay. The island could grow even larger in the coming months, drift further away from the Point itself, or could even disappear altogether – it’s anyone’s guess what happens next.

But for now, Hatteras Island has a new reason to be in the spotlight, and longtime Point visitors should expect some company in the coming weeks as word circles around the region - as well as the world - about his new natural attraction.


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