September 28, 2017

Shelly Island Sandbar Diminished After Hurricane Maria


The Shelly Island sandbar was a shell of its former mile-long stature a day after Maria departed the waters off the Outer Banks.

Extending for roughly a mile for most of the summer, the sandbar has now been rearranged, with one end connecting to the rest of the Point, and the other end isolated and noticeably offshore.

At roughly mid-tide on Thursday evening, the end of Shelly Island that was closest to the rest of Hatteras Island had merged with the rest of the beach, creating a wide but short peninsula.

The opposite end that was furthest away from Cape Point was the size of an oval, and was surrounded by rough surf and located nearly out of sight from the rest of the Point.

In between, where Shelly Island used to run parallel to Cape Point, was a long shoreline with relatively shallow waters and waves. On Thursday afternoon, beachcombers were wading into the waters that now bordered Cape Point, while surfers made a long trek out into the ocean.

Shell seekers will be glad to know that there were still piles of shells along the newly widened Cape Point, but on Thursday they were intermixed with dozens if not hundreds of starfish, horseshoe crabs, and closed pen shells that were washing ashore with every wave.

There’s no way to tell if the Shelly Island sandbar’s new geography post-Maria is permanent, and the island may change again as the surf calms down in the next few days.

For now, however, the long strip of sand that used to be Shelly Island has been replaced with a wide beach where the shelling is still good, but the landscape is noticeably different.

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