March 2018 at 01:22 am
By CATHERINE KOZAK
When I first traveled through Texas in the 1980s, I visited Galveston, an old Gulf Coast town not far from lovely San Antonio. Naturally, considering the blistering humid heat of the Texas June day, I wanted to take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico. Wading in, I was immediately struck by the bathtub-warm water temperature. Then I was amazed that
I could keep walking – and walking and walking - toward the horizon, with the water staying no deeper than my knees. But what struck me most was that when I strolled out of the water, there were thick black globs on my feet.
Tar balls or oil seeps, I was soon told, are just what beachgoers have to put up with on the Gulf Coast. Locals tell people to rub baby oil on the sticky stains before washing, but even with that, it takes considerable doing to get rid of them. The tar is also evident on some California beaches, as I learned when I arrived later on the West Coast.
It was that first-person experience I remembered years later when, as a reporter, I started covering Chevron USA’s interest in oil and gas exploration off the Outer Banks. Chevron had announced in September 1997 that it wanted to drill an exploratory well 45 miles off Cape Hatteras, aiming for work to begin by the turn of the century.
With the Trump administration’s current proposal to open all U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas exploration, I’m now on my fourth round covering potential drilling off our coast - and that’s not including the Mobil Oil Corp. proposal in the late 1980s. The public comment period closed on March 9, and it’ll probably be the fall before we know if the offshore waters of North Carolina will be included in lease offerings. Read More
March 2018 at 7:10 pm
By JOY CRIST
In the past week, many islanders were a little surprised to see a familiar former landmark resurface in news headlines across the country, if not in person - namely, the Shelly Island sandbar.
When NASA satellite photos surfaced showing “before and after” aerials of the area in July 2017 and February 2018, it confirmed what many frequent visitors to the Point already knew: the sandbar known as Shelly Island was long gone. (The photos, which were captured by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, are pretty
impressive, and you can see them here: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id-91813&src-eorss-iotd.)
As everyone likely remembers, the unofficially named Shelly Island sandbar was a huge story in the summer of 2017. News of the island’s sudden appearance was covered by media outlets all around the country, and the world – (there’s even a story or two about it posted on the BBC website.)
In the fall of 2017, after we had a month of hurricanes that either affected or drifted past our area, the former sandbar connected with the Point on one end, allowing 4WD vehicles to access it.
For a few weeks afterwards, a sliver of the farthest section of the sandbar remained disconnected and barely accessible, retaining its “island status,” until it too disappeared. By the beginning of 2018, the end result was a noticeably wider Cape Point, with an interior pond that seemed to come and go at will, and still plenty of enticing shells that came up in waves after winter storms. Read More
March 2018 at 12:11 am
By JOY CRIST
On Thursday, March 1, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac gave a presentation to community members at the Fessenden Center on visitation patterns in the past year.
And while it’s a well-known fact that 28% of statistics are made up, there were plenty of surprises and numbers that stood out in the overview of the 2017 season.
The meeting was lightly attended, likely due to the impending storm that rolled in with the arrival of the weekend, and which is currently creating a big salty lake in our yard even as I type this.
So for folks who could not attend in person, here’s a look at how the past year stacked up in multiple arenas of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and what these numbers could mean going forward.
There were a total of 3.12 million visits in 2017 at the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS), the Fort Raleigh Historic Site, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
CHNS visitation was up 1% in 2017 over 2016, with roughly 2.5 million visitors.
There were 65,000 overnight camping stays in the four campgrounds within the National Seashore. Read More