Expert says recent shark attacks not sign of trend

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Three weeks and two shark attacks off our coast. A 13-year-old girl is recovering tonight at her home in Davidson after being bitten at Wrightsville Beach Saturday, but there’s still some mystery lurking in this case.

Yet another shark bite here in the Cape Fear Region begs the question, what kind of shark sunk its teeth into a 13-year-old girl, and is it part of a trend? Kendall Parker’s day at the beach turned into anything but.

“I just feel something on my arm as I’m swimming, and I thought it was just my dad joking around,” Parker said. “And then I pulled it up, and it was gushing blood, and they were all still way over there.”

One trip to the hospital and 40 stitches later, it became clear: this was a shark bite, but it’s unclear just what kind of shark it was.

Paul Barrington, a marine biologist and shark expert at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, said sand tigers, sandbars, lemons, bulls, hammerheads and tiger sharks are just some of the sharks that call our ocean home. We asked if he could identify the type of shark by looking at the bite marks, but he said it’s not that easy.

“It’d be very difficult without doing some in-depth forensics on specifically what type of shark it is,” Barrington said.

Worldwide there are only about 50 to 75 shark attacks each year. With this attack and another last month at Topsail Island, is this part of a trend?

“It’s not a trend,” Barrington said. “It has a lot to do with the time of year. The population of sharks increases during the summer, so you have an increase in people in the water, and the sharks are always there, so the chances of interaction are increased especially this time of year.”

Barrington says swimmers should avoid murky water and stay close to shore to minimize their chances of being bitten. In the end, the message remains the same: the odds of you getting bitten by a shark are small, but it’s still best to be prepared before you head into the water.

Categories: New Hanover

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