Experts weigh in on shark encounters

Local

Experts weighed in on shark encounters after a 17-year-old girl’s leg had to be amputated from an attack. 

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores said swimmers have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than being bitten by a shark.

Since 1935 there 65 reported unprovoked encounter attacks in North Carolina. Three of those were fatal according to the Florida Museum of Natural History International Shark Attack File. 

Experts at the aquarium say injuries or fatalities from ocean activities far outnumber shark encounters like drowning, stingray stings, and being caught in riptides. 

Here are some recommendations to reduce the risk of shark encounter:

– Stay in groups. Sharks are more likely to attack an individual. 

– Avoid being in the water at night. Sharks are more active at this time. 

– Avoid waters where there is bait fish. 

– Do not wear shiny jewelry or bright bathing suits. The reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.

Most shark encounters occur in near-shore waters, between sandbars, or near steep drop-offs. If a shark bites, they will quickly notice it’s a foreign object. 

“When they go and bite us, it’s not what they were expecting it’s a case of mistaken identity,” said Ara McClanahan, aquarist at N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. 

McClanahan added that sharks will not hunt people. 

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