Friday, March 11, 2016

Fact From Fiction: Bird Island

Uncovering the truths in the story telling

Bird Island?

Rising Sun, Half Moon, Rock Stars

Jules wadded her paper and swallowed her last bite whole as they started over the long causeway connecting the mainland to the particular beach their house occupied.

“See, if you look in the water up here, you’ll see a little bitty island, just big enough to stand on. In fact, my dad took us out there once on a friend’s boat and let us stand on it—” Her excited patter tapered off as she searched the emerald green water below them.

“I don’t see it. Am I supposed to see it yet?” Beside her, Matt peered over her shoulder into the choppy water.

“Yes, it’s right… should be right there…” She scanned again and again. “Marc, do you see Bird Island?

Bird Island’s disappearance was not the only change.

Entire buildings were gone as if they had never existed. Almost all of the houses she remembered were gone, a few of them replaced by skeletal structures that would eventually be new homes.

Jules had known about Hurricane Eloise in September, having watched its progress while in a few different hotel rooms. She’d never seen a newscast or newspaper with a picture of the damage. Her father had later told her, many homes were affected, but theirs had withstood the wind and the surge.

Affected, her father had said. Not gone.

Silently, she exited the car when Marc came to a stop at the underside of the pier-and-beam structure house, out of the sun. Through the years, this area had gone from being a carport, to a screened-in porch, and apparently, with no sign of the screen now, back to a carport.

Taking as many of the brown bags as she could carry, she eyed the lighter wood at the lower half of the beams while Marc pointed out what she was seeing would have been the water level during the storm surge. The line was above her head.

What is this Bird Island mentioned in Half Moon?

The True History of Bird Island

above picture from

Crab Island is an underwater Island located on the bay side of the Destin bridge. It’s a world favorite "beach" to countless tourists and locals. Because the currents are too strong to walk or swim to it from the coast, it’s only accessible by wave runners or boats. It is waist deep to most adults. Adding to the fun is an inflatable slide and several floating food venders. But this party destination and place of family fun has an interesting history.

Viewable from the bridge from Destin to Fort Walton and known as “Bird Island” through the seventies, it was a miniature sandy island big enough for only about 50 seagulls to stand on, thus earning its name. In 1974 Hurricane Eloise flattened beach houses, eroded the beach on the mainland, and washed Bird Island underwater permanently.

The name is said to have changed from Bird to Crab Island by children on a school bus crossing the bridge each day. “There’s Bird Island,” they exclaimed prior to the hurricane. And after the hurricane, the same exclamation met retorts of “There's no birds! It's 'Crab Island” now." Eventually, the name stuck.

Over the decades, Crab Island grew larger with the passing tides, hurricanes and storms, but it never again peeked above sea level. Boaters and wave runners found it to be a beautiful shallow place to anchor and swim in this ‘waist-deep swimming pool.’

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