Experts say there is no rhyme or reason for three shark bites in three-week span

Updated: Jun. 17, 2019 at 6:35 PM EDT
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FORT FISHER, N.C. (WECT) - An 8-year-old boy is recovering Monday night after he was bitten by a shark off Bald Head Island Sunday afternoon. The caller on 911 recordings released Monday said the boy was bitten twice in the leg.

This was the third reported shark bite in June. According to Julie Johnson, the husbandry curator at the aquarium at Fort Fisher, there isn’t a specific reason for the number of bites this month but she said it is more common to see sharks closer to the shore during the summer.

According to Johnson, smaller fish — sharks’ food — come closer to the shore as the water warms up, and that’s what attracts the sharks. She said over the summer, there are more people in the water, and sharks searching for food may mistake a swimmer for food.

You don’t need to be alarmed, she said. Instead, be aware of your surroundings when you’re in the ocean.

“It’s their habitat, their home and just be aware when you’re in the water to take preventative and cautious measures," Johnson said. "There are certain things you can do to protect yourself and be a little safer when you’re swimming, including the time of day when you’re swimming.

“Sharks are more active in the dusk and evening. Jewelry, it’s shiny, it reflects in the water and to a shark, that might look like a fish scale, which is something they are going to come and check out.”

The group Ocearch tracks sharks and their movements around the world. Ocearch said it’s going to take a close look at these three recent shark bites.

The hope is to work with scientists to come up with safety measures for swimmers.

Beachgoer Johnathan Layton said he and his family checked Ocearch before coming to the beach at Fort Fisher Monday. He lets his 11-year-old son swim in the ocean, but takes safety precautions.

“We typically don’t let him go over his shoulders, so if hit gets over his head that’s a warning. He comes back inside because that’s starting to get to be part of the food chain,” Layton said.

Fellow beachgoer Johnny Butts said the recent shark bite reports don’t scare him, but he’ll be more careful.

“That’s a lot in a short time span to be honest, but we’re always going to be a sharks live here too kind of idea, but not that I want to be friends and high five, but at the same time, I get it,” Butts said.

Back at the aquarium, Candace Burgess and her son are members at the aquarium. She said they come once a week to see the sharks. She said they’ll stick to seeing sharks behind a protective glass.

“I think the more knowledge people get about sharks the better because they’re able to see the animals in their natural environment, but also at a safe distance, not necessarily out at the beach," Burgess said.

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