North Carolina

Outer Banks park makes bizarre discovery as beachgoer tradition of digging gets crazy

Stop digging holes on the beach

The Town of Nags Head issued warnings for beachgoers that digging large holes in the sand can be dangerous.
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The Town of Nags Head issued warnings for beachgoers that digging large holes in the sand can be dangerous.

The baffling habit of beachgoers digging big holes in Outer Banks beaches went from curious to crazy overnight at Cape Hatteras National Seashore, according to the National Park Service.

Park rangers found a hole in the sand so large, they used the word “trench” to describe it in a Facebook post.

It was found near the town of Avon. Cape Hatteras National Seashore spokesman Michael Barber estimates it was 6 feet deep and up to 8 feet wide.

That’s big enough to drown a child, had it filled with water, or wide enough to engulf an emergency vehicle, had one rushed over it to help a struggling swimmer, park officials said.

“We appreciate the concerned visitors who reported this large hole,” the park’s post said. “Leaving such a large hole in the beach can lead to serious visitor injuries.”

This is the large hole found overnight at Cape Hatteras. Cape Hatteras National Seashore photo

It could also have consumed a bunch of those adorable little “sea turtle hatchlings” that famously waddle over the sand in the dark this time of year, park officials said.

The hole was filled in overnight with the help of park visitors, they said.

Who dug it and why remains a mystery. But the park has joined a growing number of beach sites calling for the practice to stop before someone gets hurt.

The town of Nags Head issued a plea in May for visitors to stop digging pits and it posted an example of a hole so deep, a step ladder was needed to climb out.

“Children and adults should not dig holes deeper than their knees when standing in them,” the town posted on Facebook.

“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.”

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, the LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.