No reason to panic after two shark bites in two weeks

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 1:07 PM EDT
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WTOC) - There have been two shark bites in the last two weeks - one on Tybee Island and one on Hilton Head Island.

Whether it’s Jaws or Shark Week, there’s a fascination and fear anytime the words “shark attack” are on a screen. So, for our purposes, let’s remove that phrase.

We start July 27, with a bite on Tybee Island in Georgia. Then, this Tuesday, Aug. 3, another bite on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

Some of you may be thinking, “two bites in two weeks, I’m not going in the ocean.” But experts say there’s actually no cause for concern, like, at all. It’s just the time of year where it’s bound to happen to one out of every few hundred thousand people.

“You’ve got probably the highest number of swimmers on the beach, on the entire coast line there’s hundreds of thousands of people along the beach throughout that period of time, and that’s also when the sharks are looking for food which is available in near shore waters,” said Mel Bell, the director of the Office of Fisheries Management for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

In 2019, there were 41 unprovoked bites in the United States. And in 2020, there were still 33 even with all the quarantining. Since 1837, South Carolina is the state with the fourth most shark attacks, so Bell says it’s normal for the state to have a decent chunk of the total number of bites during peak beach season.

“Typically, we can have as many as five or six of these in a given year and that’s been going on since at least the 90s. There’s not really an increase that I’ve seen in a trend, and again, people just need to take some precautions when they’re at the beach,” Bell said.

Bell says those precautions are mostly common sense. On the list are not swimming in pools of bait fish, getting out of the water if you’re bleeding, and listening to lifeguards when they tell you to return to the beach.

It’s also important to note that by all reports, both the people bitten in the last two weeks are all right. All of this is to say, experts say don’t be too worried about sharks and have fun out there on the beach.

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