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Exasperated Outer Banks town warns people to quit digging giant holes in the beach

The coastal North Carolina town of Nags Head issued an unusual warning Tuesday, in advance of the Memorial Day weekend: Don’t dig giant holes in our beach.

To underscore the problem, the town posted a photo on Facebook of a beach hole so deep, a step ladder was needed to climb out.

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This is an example of one of the holes found dug by tourists in the beach at Nags Head, on the Outer Banks.

“Large holes in the sand can be difficult to see and are dangerous for both people and wildlife,” the post said.

“Children and adults should not dig holes deeper than their knees when standing in them.... Ocean rescue personnel must be able to drive on the beach both day and night to quickly provide emergency services. Sand collapses can occur in holes just a few feet deep.”

For at least the last three years, Nags Head officials have complained tourists are digging pits in its beach, something that is apparently as popular as building sand castles.

The hole featured in the post was found in August 2015, and it prompted Nags Head to first coin the tongue-in-cheek warning: “Never leave a hole unattended.”

An even bigger circular trench was found by town officials in July 2018 and “it took 3 of our lifeguards 20 minutes to fill the hole up,” the town said.

Nags Head officials pointed out on Facebook that it’s actually against the law to engage in “excessive and unsafe digging or piling of sand on the ocean beach,” according to a lengthy town statute. However, it’s unclear if any tourist has ever gotten a ticket for digging on the beach.

The Kitty Hawk Police Department also posted a warning this week about large beach holes, noting they are a threat to life guards rushing to save a lives.

“Some may see that digging a hole is harmless and part of the beach experience,” said the Kitty Hawk police. “Folks out for a walk or run do not expect to encounter deep holes in the sand. These unexpected holes can cause injuries to runners and walkers if they were to fall into them or place their foot in them.”

Reaction to the Nags Head Facebook post has largely been one of disbelief -- not that the warning was issued, but that people are digging such large holes.

“Who the goes on vacation...and digs a hole? That’s work,” posted Allen Butler on the town’s Facebook post..

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