YouTube video of a shark feeding frenzy at Cape Lookout National
Seashore, just south of Cape Hatteras, has gone viral on national and
social media this week.
The video was shot by angler Donnie Griggs, while he was on retreat
with some other leaders of One Harbor Church, which is located in
nearby Morehead City, N.C.
The men wrote in the text with the video that they were out fishing for
the evening's dinner when they came across more than 100 sharks
attacking a school of bluefish. They watched the frenzy for more than
five minutes, they said, and caught blues on every cast on line with no
The scene is quite fascinating as the blues chase bait fish in the
water and the sharks chase the bluefish, while screeching gulls circle
and dive from overhead and brown pelicans sit on the water nearby,
waiting their chance.
The incident was filmed last Thursday, Oct. 9, and has been shared on
local television stations all the way to Indiana, a USA Today blog, ABC
Nightly News, and a whole myriad of other blogs and social media sites.
Last night after the video made the ABC national newscast earlier in
the evening, it had already been viewed more than 600,000 times. But
before midnight, that number was well over a million views.
Griggs is described "as an avid waterman who spearfishes, dives, swims
and surfs at Cape Lookout often."
The description of the video closes with, " We want it to be clear that
Cape Lookout and the surrounding beaches of Eastern North Carolina are
extremely safe for swimming. The presence of these sharks and large
schools of fish is actually a sign of a very healthy ecosystem."
That is all very true, according to a recent story by Tess Malijenosky
for Coastal Review Online on the "state of the sharks." The beaches are
safe for swimming and the sharks are a sign of a healthy ecosystem.
The writer spent a day aboard a vessel with a captain and his crew who
make a biweekly pilgrimage to the waters off Shackleford Banks in
Carteret County to catch sharks for Frank Schwartz, a researcher at the
University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead
City. He has been surveying sharks off the coast since 1972 and has the
longest continuous dataset in the U.S. that uses the same gear in the
"Schwartz says there are certain species that he isn’t seeing anymore,
particularly the large sharks," Malijenosky writes. "He thinks the
decline is cyclical and isn’t worried that any one species
will go extinct."
However, she notes that other scientists think sharks are indeed in
serious trouble. While some species "are very slowly beginning to
recover, their threat of extinction is still real."
Some local commercial fishermen who spend time on the water say that
shark numbers may have been down at some point, but from what they see
on their trips, that is no longer the case. The sharks, they say, are
The article goes on to talk about sharks and their interactions with
It remains true that the danger of being killed -- or even attacked by
a shark -- is mighty slim.
According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 48
confirmed, unprovoked shark attacks off the North Carolina coast from
1935-2013. That number includes just three fatalities -- in 1935, 1957,
The 2001 fatal attack was off the beach in Avon when a 28-year-old
Russian visitor died and his girlfriend was injured.
There are a few other reports of shark bites at Cape Hatteras National
Seashore in recent years, but both victims -- a woman in Avon in 2012
and a 5-year-old girl on Ocracoke in 2011 -- recovered just fine.
This summer, there have been frequent media reports of sharks --
especially Great Whites -- congregating off beaches on both coasts and
along the East Coast from Cape Cod to Florida.
Of course, as George Burgess, curator of the International Shark Attack
File, notes in the Coastal Review Online article, there are more people
than ever in the water, enjoying beach vacations and all kinds of
watersports. And those people have cameras on cell phones and access to
social media to get the word out.
Burgess says that we can expect more shark attacks along the North
Carolina coast in the future, but that an individual's chance of being
bitten will decrease.
“With the increase in water temperatures, one will expect there to be
increases in the number of sharks along the East Coast of the United
States, including North Carolina,” he says in the article.
“You’re going to have more sharks in more areas encountering humans,”
he says. “As a result the answer is, of course, there will be more of
these incidences because a) you’re going to have a lot more people in
the water and b) you’re going to have more sharks in areas where they
were not normally found. We’ve already seen that in certain areas.”
However, Burgess adds, “Our chances of being bit as individuals
actually decreases each year because of the sheer volume of people in
And click here to read the full story
on the "State of the Sharks.