On Thursday morning, a team from Good Morning America landed on the new island off of Cape Point to shoot live segments for the day’s show with Chief Meteorologist Ginger Zee.
Though the new island has certainly been covered by multiple media outlets, this was the first time that a major network conducted a live broadcast on this now famous formation.
“I saw that a couple other outlets had done stories on it,” says Zee. “…But [I thought] I would love to do it live.”
After doing a bit of investigating, Zee was drawn to the island story because of several pieces of misinformation that were floating around. “The reporting didn’t match the research I had been doing,” she says, noting that she talked to Dr. Stan Riggs of East Carolina University, who pointed out that despite several reports, the island didn’t form because of the offshore Gulf Stream or Labrador currents.
“That immediately changed everything,” she adds. “[We wanted] to share the real reason why Shelly Island formed.”
A whirlwind trip to Hatteras Island soon followed.
Zee and her team got to their local hotel at 11:45 p.m. on Wednesday night. By 5 a.m. on Thursday, they were climbing aboard a boat at Oden’s Dock – courtesy of Jake Dempsey of Team Dempsey Guide Service – which shuttled them to the island.
Arriving at roughly 6 a.m., the team set up on a mainly deserted Shelly Island to provide live broadcasts for Good Morning America throughout the early morning hours.
During the segments, Chief Meteorologist Zee pointed out that the island was not formed because of offshore currents, but because of persistent weather patterns. North Carolina had a mild winter, and high pressure systems that rotate clockwise provided a southwest flow, which in turn built up the sandbar. A lack of nor’easters in the winter also helped move the process along.
Zee also discussed the dangers of reaching the island during the broadcast – which has resulted in a number of rescues over the past couple of weeks.
Though there were very few people on Shelly Island during filming, the broadcast did have its share of surprises. At one point, a fisherman who was casting a few feet away from the crew reeled in a shark – a moment that was caught on camera.
“We saw 15 sharks in a group on the way there, and a fisherman caught a shark right before went on [air.],” says Zee. “It definitely let us know that there was a plethora of wildlife there.”
The island itself was also a bit of a surprise, according to Zee.
“The island was bigger than I expected,” she says. “When I read a lot of other reports, they said it was a football field wide… Well, that is not a football field wide.”
“That threw me a little, but to see the width of it was really impressive.”
There weren’t many crowds flocking to see what was happening on the island at the crack of dawn, but the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad was stationed nearby on Cape Point, just in case.
As more beach-goers trickled in, word finally started to spread on the Point that Good Morning America was filming on the not-so-distant island.
“They’re right over there,” said one beach visitor pointing to the island. “I’d go over, but I didn’t expect to be on TV today.”
The crew wrapped up at roughly 9 a.m., and almost immediately had to head back to Norfolk to catch a flight to their New York home base.
And even though Zee had been to the Outer Banks area for storms before, she says that this trip in particular would certainly inspire her to return again.
“That’s my type of vacation,” she says. “There’s people on the island, but it’s still obviously [quiet.]… I most definitely would want to bring my family back and do a real vacation.”
Several segments from the morning broadcast have already been posted online, and can be viewed here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/exploring-shelly-island-island-formed-off-north-carolina-48461644 and here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/island-emerges-off-north-carolina-coast-48467997.
And Zee says the combination of the scientific nature of the island – as well as its inherent beauty – makes Shelly Island worth the media attention, and worth the whirlwind trip.
“Scientifically, it’s fascinating,” she says. “…I loved learning about how much the island has changed, and loved teaching others [about it.] That was a special part of doing this piece.”