A new island has formed off the tip of Cape Point in the constantly changing Outer Banks. Named Shelly Island, the sandbar is about a mile long and three football fields wide. outerbanks.org
A new island has formed off the tip of Cape Point in the constantly changing Outer Banks. Named Shelly Island, the sandbar is about a mile long and three football fields wide. outerbanks.org

Local

That strange new NC island mystifies the world yet again

October 01, 2017 12:20 PM

That new island that appeared this spring off the coast of North Carolina has all but vanished, thanks to Hurricane Maria.

Shelly Island was a mile long before the storm, and it was starting to host plant life.

Now?

“Ninety percent gone,” says Ken Barlow, the Virginia businessman who filed a quit claim deed last month for island ownership.

What’s left of the estimated 27 acres is an oval shaped sandbar that is 300 feet from the Cape Point end of Hatteras Island, he said. (Barlow believed it was 100 acres at its largest.)

The Outer Banks Voice reports the storm essentially re-arranged Shelly Island, dividing it in half. One end is now connected to the rest of Cape Point (adding more beach) and the other is isolated off shore, surrounded by rough surf. (The state estimates 30 percent of the island survived the recent storms.)

Barlow is not giving up hope on his island. He believes a nearby dredging operation led to the formation of the island, and that dredging work is starting again.

News outlets had reported in recent weeks that the channel separating the island from Cape Point had filled in, raising questions about whether the island was still an island. However, the channel began to deepen again before the storm, keeping Barlow confident in his land claim.

The island, or sandbar as sticklers call it, first started growing last fall and was noticed by beach goers in the spring. Once the island began to draw tourists, ownership claims were discussed by the state and the national park service.

However, Barlow filed a quit claim, claiming it for his own.

Dare County officials have maintained the land is owned by the state or the national park service.

Experts had predicted the island might be washed away if a strong enough storm blew threw the area.

Related stories from The Charlotte Observer

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.