Just don't forget to bundle up.
Cape Lookout Seashells
Credit: NPS photo: Vickie Boutwell

Visitors to the Outer Banks' most prized shelling locations are discovering an unexpected silver lining to the recent government shutdown: loads and loads of beautiful seashells just waiting to be scooped up.

"The shelling is excellent right now!" Cape Lookout National Seashore announced on Facebook Monday.

A member of the national park's staff, B. G. Horvat, explained to The Charlotte Observer that the abundance of seashells currently blanketing North Carolina's barrier islands can be attributed to a combination of factors, including weather activity and lower park attendance due to the shutdown.

"It's colder on the water, which makes for less folks heading over," Horvat said. "Also, over the months of December and January, there have already been several storms that likely carried many shells ashore with their tides, currents and winds."

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Both Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout national seashores reopened on Monday after being closed since December 22. The partial government shutdown left both beaches unstaffed, discouraging a majority of potential visitors for four weeks.

If you plan to head out to do some shelling this week, be sure to dress for the cold weather and remember that all facilities on the barrier islands (visitor centers, restrooms, etc.) are still closed for the season.