I post quite a bit on the sharks of my homeland of New England, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that I neglect my current station here in North Carolina. I’m actually woefully late in writing about this and I don’t usually write about attacks, but I couldn’t ignore a shark story from practically my own backyard. Recently a 13-year old girl was bitten in the surf at Wrightsville Beach, down near Wilmington. By all accounts this was pretty similar to the single bite “bump and run” attacks typical of the bites in Volusia County in Florida. The girl is doing fine after getting stitches for a single bite to the arm, but what makes this story interesting is that there is some controversy over the species of shark involved. It was initially thought that the offending shark was a small sand tiger, an aquarium favorite for its combination of fierce looks and relatively docile demeanor. Now Paul Barrington of the North Carolina Aquarium has stated that the species is as likely to be a sharpnose, dusky, blacktip, or spinner shark as a sand tiger, an opinion seconded by Shark Attack File guru and all-around badass George Burgess.
Whatever the species, you should be aware that although Volusia County beaches get most of the press, sharks are a regular presence in North Carolina waters and frankly North Carolina would be much worse off without them. Follow the general rules of the road for avoiding shark attack (swim during the day, don’t go in bleeding or near blood, don’t thrash around, etc.) and your odds of attack are very very low (and judging by the proximity of some surfers to the fishing piers on the Outer Banks, it’s probably very low even if you are blatantly tempting fate). It’s their ocean, we just play in it.
Ok, I saw that the story that it probably wasn’t a sand tiger, and I agree with that…. but a SHARPNOSE? The world’s wussiest shark? People use them as bait to catch other sharks!
I think what they were getting at is that any coastal shark species that feeds up in the surf could potentially mistake a random arm or leg for a fish, which is why you see species like sharpnoses and spinners implicated in this kind of attack. I do agree with you on the wussiness of sharpnoses though. I’m pretty sure a similar-sized spiny or smooth dogfish could take a sharpnose. They seem pretty skittish.
I was down there a couple of days before this incident, surf kayaking and saw several 3 to 4 foot sharks i couldn’t identofy (probably sandbar or blacktip juvies). I see some much of the time I go there. This is a pretty isolated incident. Glad she is ok.