Shelly Island as it appeared at the beginning of August. The channel is rapidly filling in. (Photo Outer Banks Voice)
Will Shelly Island, the newest addition to the Outer Banks shoreline, be around for a while?
According to a number of experts the answer is, “No.”
As it turns out, sand islands form fairly regularly off capes that are similar to Cape Point at Cape Hatteras. If Shelly Island is distinctive, it is because of it’s size…about a mile lone and 400-500’ across.
The islands very rarely survive the inevitable winter storms of the North Carolina coast; they are, after all, just a sandbar that managed to pop it’s head above the breakers of the surf. If, however, Shelly Island does make to 2018, it would be because of its size.
There is, though, another possibility.
The island first rose above the ocean in May. At that time, the channel separating the Point from the new land was about 50 yards across. At low tide, it could wading to Shelly Island was quick and easy.
At high tide it was dangerous. A powerful current churned through the channel, the water was 6-7’ deep and sharks and large sting rays had been reported swimming through the waters.
That is not happening now. The channel is getting narrower and filling in. There is a good possibility that the island will become attached to the land, which would make every map of Cape Hatteras inaccurate.
No matter what happens to the island, what we are witnessing is a fascinating lesson in the processes and power of nature.