UPDATE:  Another shark attack off N.C. beach

shark

Credit: Jacky Weyenbergh


DARE COUNTY –  A man was bitten by a shark this afternoon while swimming off Avon Beach in Dare County.  Witnesses say the 47-year-old male was swimming half a mile from the Avon Fishing Pier. He was taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hosptial. His condition has not been released.

Witnesses say he appeared to have been bitten three times on his right leg and lower back.

This incident follows another shark attack Wednesday when a 8-year-old boy was bitten while wading in waist-deep water in Surf City, N.C. The boy suffered minor injuries. 

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Original story posted June 16, 2015

BRUNSWICK COUNTY –  The beaches in Brunswick County are open but heavily patrolled following two shark attacks over the weekend. Officials are using helicopters, boats and all-terrain vehicles to comb the shoreline and try to head off another threat. Some have suggested euthanizing sharks, a tactic that some experts warn against.

“Sharks are a protected species and shooting them would be a Federal Marine Fisheries violation,” said Louis Daniel, Director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

The attacks Sunday morning happened within an hour of each other on Oak Island, each leaving a teenager maimed. While there are thousands of sharks along the southeastern shore, shake bites are relatively rare.

From 1935-2014 there have been 52 confirmed attacks in North Carolina, three fatal. According to National Geographic, the odds of being killed by a shark are 1 in 3.7 million, while the odds of being struck by lightening are 1 in 3,000.

Shark experts say there is no way to know exactly why a shark attacks, but it usually is because they confuse a swimmer with a potential meal.

 “Anytime you swim in the ocean, you take a risk,” said Daniel, who holds a doctorate in marine biology. “The best way to minimize the risk is to limit the food sources for sharks. They see little fish and bait, something flashes, they bite at it, and if they find it isn’t what they want, they move on.”

Local officials say they want to take measures that are truly effective, not just for show. Finding the exact shark responsible is impossible. As migratory animals, they are likely long gone by now. Instead, officials hope to put minds at ease by minimizing the risk and explaining the rarity of a bite.

“Working with the locals and private business owners is better than the big hand of government coming down,” said Daniel. “Talk to your small businesses, residents and guests and say, ‘please don’t throw giant chunks of chum and fish guts in the water or fish where there are children in playing in the surf.'”