Local

After shark attacks, NC’s Oak Island goes on alert

Members of the Sheriff's department use ATVs to patrol the beach on Oak Island beach near the Ocean Crest Pier as life resumes here on Monday, June 15, 2015. On Sunday, two people were attacked by sharks while swimming in this southeastern North Carolina town. One of the attacks several hundreds yards from here on the other side of the pier. On Monday, a few people went into the water, but not very far out. Most were either on the sand or just in the surf where the water was only a foot or two deep.
Members of the Sheriff's department use ATVs to patrol the beach on Oak Island beach near the Ocean Crest Pier as life resumes here on Monday, June 15, 2015. On Sunday, two people were attacked by sharks while swimming in this southeastern North Carolina town. One of the attacks several hundreds yards from here on the other side of the pier. On Monday, a few people went into the water, but not very far out. Most were either on the sand or just in the surf where the water was only a foot or two deep. cseward@newsobserver.com

Authorities in Brunswick County plan to discontinue beach patrols and helicopter surveillance for sharks Wednesday as the resort area returns to normal following two attacks Sunday on beachgoers.

No unusual shark activity was reported Tuesday as tourists were reminded to be wary of the water.

Fliers were distributed on the beach noting Sunday’s attack on two young swimmers, Town Manager Tim Holloman said.

Holloman said a few tiger sharks had been spotted Monday in the Atlantic waters, which isn’t unusual in this town of 6,500, which is swelling to its seasonal population of 30,000. “Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said.

Only a handful of cancellations had been received at Oak Island resorts after the attacks and the beaches were busy with vacationers, though only a few were venturing far into the water Tuesday.

“It’s getting back to business as usual,” Holloman said. “We’re telling people to be cautious and have a good time.”

Spread word after attack

Holloman said that after the second attack Sunday afternoon, authorities on ATVs went down the strand with bullhorns warning people to get out of the water. Nearby Caswell Beach was contacted about the attacks and took similar measures to notify visitors.

Oak Island doesn’t have an ordinance in which the city can close beaches in such an event, but Holloman said the city contacted the N.C. Attorney General’s Office in Raleigh and has received the wording for two ordinances that the city could adopt to do so.

“We hope this never happens again,” he said.

Rarity of attacks

Kiersten Yow, 12, of Archdale, and Hunter Treschel, 16, of Colorado Springs, Colo., both lost part of their left arms in the attacks. Three days earlier, a 13-year-old girl was bitten by what was believed to be a shark about 20 miles west on Ocean Isle Beach.

Shark attacks are rare and to have two only 90 minutes and two miles apart is virtually unheard of, shark experts say.

There have only been a few dozen shark attacks recorded off the Carolinas since 1935, according to the International Shark Attack File, a registry maintained by the University of Florida.

North Carolina has reported 52 shark attacks with three fatalities, the last in 2001. New Hanover County beaches account for 13 of those attacks and Brunswick County for 10, including one fatality. Brunswick County’s last shark bite was believed to have occurred in the 1970s.

In South Carolina, there have been 82 shark attacks off the coast since 1935, two of them fatal and both off Charleston. Coastal waters near Charleston account for 30 attacks and the waters off Horry County, where the popular resort Myrtle Beach is located, have had 29.

Charleston’s earliest fatal shark attack was recorded in 1852.

Washburn: 704-358-5007

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments