June 26, 2015

Man is apparently bitten by shark off Avon beach


A 47-year-old man was apparently bitten by a shark shortly before noon today about 1 mile north of the Avon Fishing Pier.

According to the National Park Service,  a caller reported at 11:41 a.m. that a person was apparently injured by a shark. NPS rangers, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, the Dare County Sheriff's Office and Dare County Medical Service responded to the scene.

The Park Service said the man, who was not indentified, had been swimming with others when the incident occurred, reportedly in waist-deep water.  He received various injuries to his right leg and lower back.  He was treated at the scene and then transported by ambulance and Dare Medflight to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital in Norfolk, Va., for further care. 

Early this evening, there was no word on his condition, although the injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

No other swimmers were injured, and the National Park Service did not close the beach.

"There are many inherent dangers while swimming in ocean or sound waters," the Park Service said in a news release. "Swimmers are advised to be aware of conditions and their surroundings.

The last reported shark attack on the seashore was in 2012 when a woman was bitten on her leg while she was swimming in shallow water near the Avon Fishing Pier.

In 2011, a 6-year-old girl was airlifted to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville after she was bitten by a shark on an Ocracoke beach. That attack happened about 5:30 in the afternoon, also in shallow water.  The child was on a boogie board, and the shark was reported to have been about 4 or 5 feet long.

Before that, the last shark attack on the seashore was on Sept. 3, 2001, off the beach at Avon when a 28-year-old Russian visitor was killed and his 23-year-old girlfriend critically injured.  A bull shark was suspected in that attack.

This is the fifth shark attack reported  this month in North Carolina.  Two occurred at Oak Island and one each were reported at Ocean Isle and Surf City.

Many experts attribute the recent rise in the number of shark attacks to the increase in the number of people in the water on ocean beaches.

It is also worth noting that you are much more likely to be killed in the ocean or on the beach by a lightning strike, drowning, the collapse of a sand hole, or a boating or other water-related accident.

12 tips to reduce the risk of a shark encounter:

Tips compiled by the International Shark Attack File

  • Avoid being in the water from sunset to sunrise. This is when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage.
  • Stay in a group, and do not wander too far from shore. Isolated individuals are more likely to be attacked than large groups; in addition, the farther you are from shore, the farther you are from help.
  • Consider your clothing: avoid wearing shiny jewelry, because the reflected light resembles the sheen of fish scales.
  • Avoid brightly colored or patterned clothing, because sharks see contrast particularly well.
  • Do not enter waters being used by sport or commercial fisherman - sharks can sense the smells emitted from bait at incredible distances.
  • Avoid entering waters with sewage output and/or entering the water if you are bleeding. Such additions to the water can act as strong olfactory attractants to sharks.
  • Know your facts. Porpoise sightings do not indicate the absence of sharks. In fact, the opposite is often true. Also be on the lookout for signs of bait fishes or feeding activity - diving seabirds are good indicators of such action. Animals that eat the same food items are often found in close proximity. Remember, a predator is never too far from its prey.
  • Refrain from excess splashing while in the water, and do not allow pets in the water because of their erratic movements.
  • Exercise caution when occupying the area between sandbars or near steep drop-offs, as these are favorite hangouts for sharks.
  • Do not enter the water if sharks are known to be present, and evacuate the water if sharks are seen while there. And, of course, do not harass a shark if you see one.
  • Stay calm if you do see a shark, and maintain your position in as quiet a manner as possible. Most sharks merely are curious and will leave on their own.
  • Relax. You are more likely to be injured by lightning than attacked by a shark. To learn more about your relative risks, see: The Relative Risk of Shark Attacks to Humans

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