visitors to the new sandbar that has grown off the edge of Cape Point
were surprised to discover that the unofficially named “Shelly Island”
has grown – and has grown quite a bit.
several weeks ago, island explorers used a kayak or small vessel to
cross a roughly 50 yard channel of water that separated the sandbar
from the rest of the island. But in the past few days, visitors around
low tide have been able to simply walk over in water that is at times
just a foot or two deep.
like the channel is filling in quite a bit,” says Cape Hatteras
National Seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac, “and this has happened in
just the past couple of weeks.”
“I was just
remarking that when I was out there two weeks ago at the same time, the
channel was up to someone’s neck, and now it’s up to someone’s ankles,”
As of right
now, the sandbar is believed to be owned by the state of North
Carolina, but it’s possible that if it does connect with Cape Point,
this ownership could change, and it could become part of the Cape
Hatteras National Seashore.
Who owns –
or who will own – Shelly Island is a fairly new and unprecedented
question, however, and the answer isn’t set in stone.
looking into that right now, but we’re not too worried about who owns
it,” says Hallac. “In the end, the National Park Service will work with
everybody to help manage it if it connects, and we feel confident our
visitors will do their best to experience the island safely.”
advised that visitors take along a kayak or vessel to reach Shelly
Island, because conditions can change within just a couple hours. But
as opposed to just a few weeks ago - when swimming to the island was
completely discouraged - the recommendations have somewhat changed.
still recommending [using a vessel], but we’re not trying to make
unrealistic recommendations either – especially when the waters are
shallower than knee high,” says Hallac. “But when the tide comes up,
there still could be a strong current.”
result, visitors are cautioned that no matter how they reach the
sandbar, they should time their trip around a low tide.
choose to walk over there, pay attention to the tide and walk back when
the water level is low, and no significant current has formed,” says
low-tide timed trip is important for reaching the sandbar, but it’s
also important for reaching Cape Point itself.
days, the beachfront south of Ramp 44 has not been passable in the
hours around high tide, and ORV visitors will want to pay attention to
the tides to ensure safe transport on and off the beach.
is still open, but it’s challenging to get out there 2-3 hours around
high tide,” says Hallac. “People taking ORVs out there really need to
pay attention to the tide and plan their trip accordingly, and make a
smart decision about leaving well before high tide arrives.”
being said, there’s still a great window of opportunity to get out
there around low tide and enjoy it.”
the new sandbar continually changing – and the always present threat
that it could be washed away with the next storm – now is as good a
time as any to discover this unusual formation.