With 11 shark attacks taking place off the coast of North and South Carolina this year alone, according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, many questions and concerns are being raised. A man was bitten Wednesday on the Outer Banks’ Ocracoke Island in the latest attack.
The number is higher than the average of six attacks a year off the coasts of those two states. So what is behind the increase?
A number of factors could be contributing to the rise in shark attacks, such as warmer water and drought conditions, said George H. Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Dothan First reported.
Drought conditions reduce the amount of freshwater making it into the sea, which creates an environment along the shore with higher salt levels which attack more fish and therefor more sharks, Burgess added.
Warmer waters have sharks in North Carolina ahead of schedule, a recipe for disaster. At Oak Island, North Carolina, two teenagers were bitten within 90 minutes of one another on June 14.
Burgess said beach traffic is increasing now that school is out for summer, meaning more people in the water than normal.
“This is a situation that we can’t ignore, as we’ve had a number of attacks that are serious within a short period of time,” he told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°” on Wednesday night.
“There’s something going on there, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a perfect storm of environmental and biological variables as well as human activity,” Burgess said.
A shark attacked a man in his late 60s Wednesday on Ocracoke Island in the seventh such incident in North Carolina this year. The man was swimming outside the first breaker when he came across a 6- to 7-foot shark, according to Sarah Johnson, a spokeswoman for Hyde County.
The shark pulled the man underwater, biting into his rib cage, hip, lower leg and both hands, she said. The man was conscious and talking when he was flown to the hospital for treatment.
A day earlier, 12-year-old boy was bitten on the leg while swimming in knee-deep water off Isle of Palms, South Carolina.