If you’ve seen “Jaws,” this is a question that has undoubtedly plagued you when you go in the ocean. You’re out there having a leisurely dip in the water and suddenly you remember the movie’s foreboding crescendo as the fin appears and starts its rapid approach…
The truth is sharks do live off the North Carolina coast, but attacks are rare. The most common types found close to shore include sandbar, bull, scallop hammerhead and sharpnose sharks, said Matt Babineau, an aquarist technician at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
In 2008, three unprovoked shark attacks occurred in N.C. waters, according to the International Shark Attack File, a compilation of all known shark attacks created in 1958 and administered by the American Elasmobranch Society and the Florida Museum of Natural History.
For a map of confirmed attacks in North Carolina between 1935 and 2006, click here.
Still worried about being a shark’s next victim? According to the International Shark Attack File’s Web site, the annual risk of death in one’s lifetime is greater for incidents involving excessive cold, sun/heat exposure, lightning, a train crash or fireworks than for shark attacks. Research also shows you’re more likely to be involved in a dog attack or sand hole collapse than a shark attack.
Even though the odds are pretty slim you’ll be attacked by a shark, there are certain things you can do to make it even less likely. Among them are: avoid entering the ocean in darkness or twilight hours, stay out of the water if bleeding and stay in groups while swimming, wading or surfing. Click here for a full list.
National Geographic offers some tips on what to do if you’re attacked and how to help a victim. Click here to learn more.
Judy Royal contributed to this post.
Date posted: June 15, 2009