This weekend we decided to take the canoe out and paddle to a nearby island to enjoy the quiet serenity of nature and spend some time playing with the kids in the water. Off in the distance we saw the perfect spot. The island looked tranquil and the water surrounding it was placid. The seagrass was a vibrant green and brilliantly white gulls lined the shore and sandy beach. It looked like the perfect spot to stop and play in the shallow waters.
As we got closer to the island, we noticed that it was surrounded by signs. Curious, we paddled closer for a look at the small print on one of the signs. To our surprise it read "DANGER. Unexploded Ordinance. No anchoring or bottom disturbing activities." Needless to say, we carefully and quickly paddled away. I was definitely glad we had not taken the pontoon boat!
The signs made me curious though. There are several military bases and air stations in the area so it would be logical that at some point the islands of Bogue Sound would have been used as a practice bombing sight. With a little research, I found some answers.
Wood Island, an unofficial bird and sea turtle sanctuary is located about a half mile from Emerald Isle and one and a half miles from the mainland. During the 1940's and 1950's, the site was used as a Navy bombing target. According to a report created by the Naval Engineering Command investigation old munitions remnants were found on the surface, shoreline, and partly buried. Luckily, the unexploded explosives have never accidentally detonated and the island is undergoing a long term cleanup and removal of them. Several articles can be found online (click the picture) if you would like to find out more about this interesting "local attraction."