Most of the headlines about our changing planet are full of doom and gloom these days, usually discussing dying species, warming temperatures, and rising oceans. As our mother Earth continues to heat up, melting sea ice means coastlines around the world are shrinking, endangering beloved areas like Venice, New Orleans, and Micronesia. Some surprising news out of my home state of North Carolina, however, shows that Earth can still throw us a curveball in the face of climate change and show us how mysterious our planet still is.
According to numerous reports, a brand new island is rising from the waters of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. As of now, the island is roughly a mile long and some 300 meters across – but the island appears to be growing. The island is just off of Cape Point near Hatteras, NC not far from where the Wright Brothers made the first manned flight and the site of the infamous lost colony at Roanoke. Locals and tourists have come to call the island “Shelly Island” due to the abundance of seashells that have been surfacing on the new landmass.
Mark Dowdle, the deputy superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore which oversees North Carolina’s barrier islands, says that the island is still a mystery to the oceanographers who protect and preserve this part of the NC coast. “It could continue to grow or soon it could be completely gone,” Dowdle says, “We don’t know.”
While beachgoers have been flocking to the fascinating new island, it’s still pretty risky to explore the rising landmass. The ocean currents are strong and unpredictable, and there is a powerful rip current flowing between the cape’s point and the new island. Large sharks and stingrays have also been seen swimming in the waters surrounding the island. Despite the dangers, the island is quickly becoming a tourist destination, meaning now’s the time to see this brand new landmass before the first Shelly Island Wal-Mart opens up and stinks up the joint – just mind the rip current.