Growing sandbar attracting visitors, attention from concerned park rangers

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HATTERAS ISLAND, N.C. (WNCT) — A new sandbar that recently developed off the tip of Hatteras Island is attracting many people. But park rangers warn the new formation may be dangerous in more ways than one. Strong currents, sharks, and lacking lifeguards are just a few reasons people are warned to stay out of the water, despite how deceiving and welcoming it may appear.

“What’s really important to know about this sandbar that we’re talking about that is sometimes referred to as ‘Shelly Island’ is that even with a low risk of rip currents in this area, the currents between the island and Cape Pointe which is the land, could occur even if there is essentially no risk of rip currents,” says National Parks Service Outer Banks Group Superintendent Dave Hallac. “They’re driven by the tides coming in and out at that location.”

The sandbar has been a hot spot for some time attracting fishermen looking for large predators.

“This is a particular popular area for folks to go shark fishing because there are so many fish in the area and there are a lot of currents,” says Hallac. “It appears for it to be a great place for them to hang out. There are definitely sharks in the area which is another potential hazard for anyone that would be in the water.”

With dangers mounting, visitors are reminded to stay out of the water, traveling to the sandbar by kayak or paddleboard only. Chad Koczara captured the now famous photo of the formation, sharing the shot on his Instagram page. Visiting from Connecticut, Koczara says he didn’t think the sandbar was out of the ordinary.

“On Hatteras Island, the sand is always shifting,” says Koczara, who visits Hatteras Island every summer. “There is always something new popping up or getting washed away so I didn’t think much of it.”

Koczara says he had to capture the moment by drone because there was no way for him to make it over to the ‘island’ himself.

“The current was so strong that you couldn’t stand still. It was much narrower then so a lot of water was going through,” says Koczara. “It would just sweep you off your feet.”

There are no lifeguards located on this part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, another reason swimming is discouraged.

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