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Multiple rescues prompt officials to warn swimmers away from new Outer Banks island

View the new island formed in NC's Outer Banks

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.
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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.

So many people have been rescued from North Carolina’s newly formed island that state officials have issued warnings against trying to swim or wade to it across the 50-yard channel.

If you must go to the mile-long island, Cape Hatteras National Seashore and emergency officials are urging visitors to use kayaks or paddle boards.

The assistant chief of the Hatteras Island Rescue Squad told TV station WNCN that rescuers recently picked up five people off the island, while bystanders with kayaks have saved others. State officials say that, while it might be easy to cross at low tide, it’s more difficult to return at high tide, reported WNCN.

Rumors of a bounty of beautiful sea shells are luring people to the island, which is why it’s unofficially known as Shelly Island.

The Outer Banks Sentinel reported last week that the new “Off-Point” island was brimming with shell-seekers, photographers and other curious visitors “who wanted to walk on this new addition to the local landscape for themselves.”

However, experts say the island is surrounded by strong currents, which swimmers don’t realize until after they’re too far along to swim back. Sharks are also an obstacle, with multiple sightings along the island’s shores.

National Geographic recently wrote about the island’s appearance and noted it was “not exactly paradise” due to the dangerous “ripping” waters, whale bones poking through its sands, tiger sharks and “oceanic manta rays the size of car hoods.”

Experts say the island will almost certainly be wiped out within the year, reported National Geographic.

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