Another shark attack reported off NC coast on Ocracoke Island, 60-year-old man flown to hospital

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Photo: Stephen Lee

OCRACOKE ISLAND, N.C. — Another shark attacked was reported on Wednesday off the coast of North Carolina, according to officials.  The shark attack happened on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks, according to Hyde County EMS.

The victim is a man in his late 60s.  He was swimming outside the first breaker when he came upon a gray shark, some 6-7 feet in length, according to Sarah Johnson, spokeswoman for Hyde County.

The shark pulled the man under the water, and the swimmer sustained bites to his rib cage, hip, lower leg and both hands, she said. The man was conscious and talking and was flown to a hospital for treatment.

“There was a big trail of blood from the water to the sand,” witness Stephen Lee told CNN.

“There’s still people here and some people have gotten back in the water, and the park rangers are just now trying to vacate the area,” he said. “We will likely go back in the water, but maybe not get our whole bodies in today.”

A lifeguard called 911, according to an emergency worker.

Hyde County tweeted a statement, saying “a person swimming at the NPS day use area on Ocracoke sustained a bite from marine life” and the incident is still being investigated.

Wednesday’s attack marks the seventh incident on North Carolina beaches in June and July. Last year, there were only four reported in the state through the summer.

Last week, two people were bitten by sharks in the Outer Banks — one in Avon and the other just north in Waves.  Ocracoke Island, further south, is only accessible by ferry.

On Friday, a 47-year-old man was bitten by a shark in the leg and back while trying to get children and another adult out of the water near Avon.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old was swimming with other people near Waves when the shark bit his calf, buttocks and both hands.

Both victims were rushed from the beach and underwent surgery.

In South Carolina, a shark attack also took place Friday morning at Hunting Island State Park. The male victim was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for treatment. No further information was available about the victim or the extent of his injuries.

On Wednesday, an 8-year-old boy in Surf City suffered what appeared to be a shark bite. Police said the wounds were superficial and the injuries were minor.

On June 14, 12-year-old Kiersten Yow from North Carolina and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado both lost their arms in shark attacks at Oak Island.

Yow lost her left arm below the elbow and suffered injuries to her left leg.  Hunter Treschl lost an arm.

A 13-year-old girl was bitten while boogie boarding off Ocean Isle Beach on June 11. In that incident, the victim suffered non-life threatening injuries, but the shark took bites of her boogie board.

According to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida, the Carolinas have had 10 shark attacks so far in 2015 — seven in North Carolina and three in South Carolina. Among the victims, a 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy both lost an arm in attacks about 90 minutes apart at Oak Island, North Carolina, on June 14.

On average, the Carolinas experience an average of just over six shark attacks per year.

A number of factors could be contributing to the apparent rash of attacks, such as warmer water and drought conditions, said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research.

Drought conditions reduce the amount of freshwater making it to the sea, which creates an environment along the shore where high salt levels attract more fish and sharks, Burgess said. Warmer waters also have sharks in North Carolina ahead of schedule, which is a recipe for more attacks.

“Unfortunately, it’s an unholy mix,” said Burgess.