FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- The fight is on to save rich inlet from disappearing from the north end of Figure Eight Island. Some want a terminal groin, which is a jetty-like structure. But others say that would ruin the inlet's beauty and animal habitats.
"The inlets are like the heart, the pump that moves water,” ECU geology professor Stan Riggs explained. “They are a big transport system, and they move water in and out from the estuaries to the oceans, and vise-versa. They move the fish, they move the nutrients, and they move the sand."
The Figure Eight home owners association wants to build a terminal groin, a metal and rock barrier on the beach to stop erosion endangering some ocean front homes.
But Riggs says it's a waste of millions of dollars that would wash away all of this land, and the animals that call it home.
"If you don't have sand on the beach,” Riggs said, “you don't have fish in the water anymore. You can have megalopolis, but you don't have a natural barrier island."
Coastal biologist Lindsay Addison says the bird habitat on the island is the largest colony on record in North Carolina in over forty years.
"This year it's the largest colony on the entire Atlantic coast,” Addison said. “It represents about a third of the breeding least turns in the state."
Addison says if a terminal groin is put in, the habitats of thousands of birds would cease to exist.
"The terminal groin would remove this big sandy spit, and prevent it from ever forming again,” she said.
Figure Eight homeowner Fred Stanback says the homes are no longer at risk, so he says the terminal groin is pointless.
"It won't work. It will be very expensive. It's unnecessary. It destroys bird habitats, and I hope that it never happens,” Stanback said.
Without each property owner's permission the homeowners association cannot even apply for permits to build the terminal groin.
We tried speaking with those for the structure, but they did not want to go on camera.