Shifting sand could determine final ownership of new island

Waves batter the shoreline in Buxton on North Carolina's Hatteras Island during high tide on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. The Eastern Seaboard appeared to dodge the full fury of Hurricane Joaquin, which is veering out to sea. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

BUXTON, N.C. (AP) — There’s no question in the mind of the superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore as to who owns the new island off North Carolina’s coast — for now.

Superintendent Dave Hallac tells The Charlotte Observer that the state of North Carolina owns the new mile-long island known as Shelly Island and that it’s under the jurisdiction of Dare County.

But what if it connects with land? Hallac says he would have research ownership if that happens because it then could be part of the national seashore.

The island is separated from Hatteras Island by a few hundred feet of water, which is no more than 5 feet deep at low tide.

Experts say the island could continue to grow, or it could suddenly vanish with the next big storm.