MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) Researchers found shark bites or encounters are not common along our coast but there’s something you should keep in mind before heading to the beach.

But during the summer many people want to go for a swim and enjoy the beach.

UNC Institute of Marine Sciences Student Researcher Jeff Plumlee says anywhere the water is deep enough along the North Carolina coast there’s a possibility a is shark there.

“When people are at the beach that’s when we see our encounters, they’re not common they’re not something we need to be concerned about they do occur but it’s very infrequent and rare,” said Plumlee.

In the month of June, three people have been bitten by sharks in North Carolina, including here in the east.

17-year-old Paige Winter was attacked by a shark at Atlantic Beach, losing her left leg and two fingers.

Plumlee says since shark encounters are uncommon it shows sharks rarely attack humans.

“The fact that there’s not many sharks’ encounters indicate there’s not events where a shark is targeting somebody,” said Plumlee. A shark is curious shark tests and usually swims away a shark doesn’t have hands a shark can’t test with its hands and what it does is a test with its mouth.”

UNC Institute of Marine Sciences has surveyed sharks along our coast for the past 45 years.

In the last 40 years, they’ve seen a 50% decline in coastal sharks.

Recently, that trend has slowed down due to state and federal government fishing protections.

The research team is currently looking at shark diversity and their communities.

Researchers say beachgoers should avoid fishing areas and areas with high fish activity.

Plumee says sharks are not something you should be afraid of.

He says everyone should learn more about our oceans, shark and how important they are to our ecosystem.