Shark expert clears misconceptions following recent shark bites

Shark expert clears misconceptions following recent shark bites
Published: Jun. 29, 2015 at 7:22 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2015 at 11:27 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A handful of shark bites along the Carolina Coast are causing some beach goers to hesitate when getting into the Atlantic Ocean.

It's no secret that many sharks live off the coasts of North and South Carolina, but shark experts worry the recent incidents are giving the animal a bad rap.

"They're not out hunting for us. Things do go wrong sometimes but it's still not a reason to keep us from going in the ocean," said Arnold Postell.

Postell is the leading biologist at the SC Aquarium in Charleston. He says beach goers shouldn't be afraid.

"When a these accidents happen in the ocean it is a single shark bite, 99 percent of the time," said Postell. "This year, those single bites have just been a lot more impactful on the victims."

Over the weekend, a man was bitten while in the water in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Another man was bitten in the water at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Authorities say both were taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries.

Earlier this month, two separate incidents happened on the same day. Both victims were teens and each lost an arm after being bitten by a shark in Oak Island, North Carolina.

"The one thing with most of these shark bites is it's a single bite and the animal lets go," Postell said. "We don't taste good to sharks and they are very sensitive when they eat."

Postell says sharks are not seeking humans out to eat, rather, it's simply mistaken identity. For that reason, Postell says calling these encounters "shark attacks" is incorrect.

Postell says sharks can be sighted along most beaches, particularly in the morning after dawn and the evening at dusk. This is when they are typically feeding. He suggests staying out of the water during these times.

There are currently no fishing restrictions in place on Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms or Folly Beach. However, Postell says people fishing nearby is something to be aware of when getting in the water.

"Sometimes they're going after the chum and the bait that fishermen are using at the piers or fishing right off the beaches," said Postell.

At this time, no Lowcountry beaches have considered closing or temporarily banning fishing because of recent shark encounters.

The Public Safety Officials with the police departments would make the decision to close beaches of there was a credible threat to the public.

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