A new island forms on southern coast of U.S. (photo)


An act of God?  Mother Nature?  Somehow, North Carolina’s Outer Banks now had a new island for thousands of vacationers.

Shelly Island is a special place you won’t find on a standard map. The huge barrier island sporadically formed in the Atlantic Ocean, almost overnight.

A report shows the mile-long island, which measures out to be as wide as a football field, has attracted hundreds of tourists by boat for the Fourth of July.

A pilot stated that the island “has definitely gotten bigger” and is “more built up.”

County Commissioner Danny Couch, who is a life-long resident of the Outer Banks says he’s seen barrier islands pop up before, but not like this one, which he first noticed in April.

“This is the mother of all sandbars,” Couch said. “All of a sudden, right here where we’re sitting. It’s huge. It is big.”

The area right off North Carolina’s coast is one of the most unique ocean environments in the world. It is nicknamed the “graveyard of the Atlantic” — with more than 2,000 documented shipwrecks since 1585.

There are two powerful currents that collide there. The Gulf Stream which comes from the Caribbean flowing quickly north, and the Labrador Current from the arctic pushing south.

The currents collide, churning surf and sand at Diamond Shoals, producing a clump of shifting underwater sandbars off the coast of Cape Hatteras. The use of satellite imagery shows the large shoal has continued to expand ever since it came to the surface last March.

Caleb Regan, an 11-year-old boy who visited the island for the first time over Memorial-Day noticed shells scattered all over the island. Therefore naming it: Shelly Island.

Tourists keep coming to Shelly Island, both for the shells and the novelty. But aside from its insane beauty, the island presents potential trouble, such as sharks swimming near boaters and waders. Because the island is so new, no federal or state agency regularly patrols the area.

“Right now, nobody’s really claiming ownership,” Couch said. “It’s sort of a no-man’s land. This could be yours, or mine, or somebody’s. But it belongs to the American people. It’s a phenomenon. Enjoy it while we have it.”

The first hurricane that comes along could blow the island, as big as it is, back into the Atlantic. So before you rush here to build a beach house, think twice.

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