Expert, flight nurse discuss Sunday’s shark attacks


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We know at least one of the Oak Island shark attack victims is now in good condition tonight.

Experts we’ve talked with agree: the shark attacks that happened yesterday are extremely rare. But how often does this happen? And how prepared were first responders when they got the news that a shark attack has happened?

Ryan Yennings spent the day indoors Monday

“We were coming to the beach, but with all the shark attacks and stuff we decided to come check out the aquarium,” Jennings said.

He felt better keeping the sharks behind the glass; for now anyway. The news of shark attacks at Oak Island had him concerned.

“A little bit just because you never know what’s in the ocean,” Jennings said.

“Of course, it’s unusual, but it doesn’t surprise me,” said Paul Barrington with the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. “The case of mistaken identity is a classic scenario with a lot of these shark interactions. People are in their realm.”

That said, though, Barrington does not think the ocean is scary.

“No, people should not be afraid,” he said. “They should be aware understanding that sharks have been in these waters far longer than we’ve been.”

The reality of Sunday’s shark attacks became clearer at the hospital today.

“I never look to compare each patient to the next, because each patient is our priority,” said Kevin Hodge, the chief flight nurse who helped care for the victims, who were airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center after the attacks.

Hodge says they are still alive, because of some quick thinking bystanders

“The first responders did an amazing job yesterday,” he said.

Experts say there are things you can do to save yourself if you wind up face to face with a shark.

“Kick it as hard as you can, punch it,” Barrington said. “I know it is easier said than done.”

Jennings does not want to test that advice, but he’ll be back at the beach.

“Probably within a few weeks,” Jennings said. “I mean it probably won’t take long.”

The overarching points here, experts say: be aware of your surroundings. They also said to avoid swimming in the ocean around dusk or dawn, but they cautioned sharks feed at all times, so stay alert, but don’t be afraid to get back in the water.

Categories: Brunswick, New Hanover, News

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