New Hanover County (WWAY)– A 2011 study on shark attacks by the International Shark Attack File suggests that interactions between humans and sharks are on the rise.
The study says there was 115 alleged incidents of human-shark interaction worldwide in 2010.
79 were unprovoked attacks like the one on North Topsail Beach last month where 10 year-old Cassidy Cartwright was bit on the ankle.
“It’s very rare that once a shark bites someone that they go back for a second bite,” said North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher Shark Expert Eric Holtz. “They realize, well that’s not what I eat, that doesn’t taste like fish or what I was intentionally going for. So a lot of times they will bite something just to investigate it and figure out what it is. Sharks don’t have hands so they have to investigate things with their mouths. That does usually happen and that’s what most shark attacks are.”
Despite the study and the attack at North Topsail Beach, local shark experts say that attacks are very rare.
“You are more likely to die in a car accident on your way to the beach than you are to die from a bite from a shark,” said University of North Carolina at Wilmington Research Biologist Teresa Thorpe.
“The actual chance of you being bitten by a shark is fairly low, but you are likely to be near them and maybe even see them when you are in the water,” said Holtz.
Although shark attacks are very uncommon there are a couple of things you can do to avoid shark bites:
“I wouldn’t swim in the very early hours of the morning or at sunset because that’s when sharks are typically more active and when they are feeding. I would also avoid wearing any bright colored jewelry that may flash in the water and confuse the shark or the shark may think that is a fish,” said Thorpe.