The more islands change, the more they stay the same

“The great barrier islands of America’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts have been moving for centuries. Of Hatteras, North Carolina, it has been said: ‘This island is nothing fixed. It has transience, shiftiness, built into its very existence..’ In the 1980s, Hatteras ‘houses well back from the beach [were] sold on the basis of “Ocean Front Property by the Turn of the Century.” Even erosion can turn a buck’….

“It is only when barrier islands are fixed in place that they are breached and eroded. Prevented from moving, they literally die, shrinking in size and viability…..

“The reason we continue to ‘fix’ coasts only to destroy them is not hard to fathom. We have allowed people to build right up to the edge of the sea, creating property that for coastal communities in economic decline is the principal tax base.”

— From “The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History” by John R. Gillis (2012)


Outer Banks flotsam reveals grim fate of slave ship

“Some beach debris is gruesome….In the 1970s a local physician found a piece of shipwreck timber on a North Carolina Outer Banks beach. The piece of cypress wood had two clumps of rust on it separated by a few inches. Close examination of the rust revealed fragments of a fibula and tibia in each. The explanation: The wood fragment was part of a slave ship that sank with its human  cargo shackled to ship timbers, unable to escape.”

— From “The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline” by Orrin H. Pilkey, William J. Neal, James Andrew Graham Cooper and Joseph T. Kelley (2011)