A man, 68, who was attacked by a shark off the coast of Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, was transported to a hospital, according to Hyde County and National Park Service officials.
ABC News reported that the attack occurred at 12:13 p.m. The shark bit the man in his lower left torso, lower left leg, hip and both hands, Hyde County EMS Director Justin Gibbs said. The victim’s description of the attack when he got to the helicopter allowed the officials to confirm that it was a shark attack. He was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina.
The name of the victim has not been disclosed as of yet.
According to NBC News, one of the witnesses said that the victim looked shocked after emerging from the water, though he was able to swim to the shore without any assistance.
Lynette Holman said, “His wound on his leg looked like a 5-inch gash. The news spread really quickly, and everyone ran out of the water when they heard what happened.” The man was tended by eight people until the ambulance arrived and he was taken to the hospital.
Holman was visiting the beach on a vacation with her husband.
Witness Jackson Fuqua, 15, said the man had a “baseball-size chunk taken out above his knee” and was bleeding. Park Rangers called swimmers to the shore.
Almost 30 to 40 shark attacks occur throughout the United States each year, as suggested by the data from the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. As reported by USA Today, the latest attack on Ocracoke Island was the 24th in the country this year.
In North Carolina, the number of attacks each year is only one or two.
As the number of shark attacks for this year surpasses the above average mark, and is expected to continue rising, concerns are being raised for the July 4th weekend.
George Burgess, director of the Shark Attack File, said, “I can almost guarantee there’ll be a bite or two this weekend.”
Burgess added that the attacks this year have occurred farther north than usual. South Carolina, too, has seen three attacks this year.
Two ambulances with paramedic level service, with a third one on call, will be deployed for the July 4th weekend, Hyde County said.
Daniel Abel, marine scientist at Coastal Carolina University, said that swimmers will be wary of going into the water this weekend.
“I bet fewer and fewer people are swimming these days, so opportunities for interactions may be diminished for a while,” he said.
Of the 24 attacks reported this year, one has been fatal. According to Shark Attack File, zero to one fatality occurs on an average each year.
On Saturday, a shark bit a 17-year-old on his calf, buttocks and both hands. The victim, who was attacked at a beach on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, was in critical condition. Another incident, believed to have been a shark attack, caused injuries to a 47-year-old man’s right leg and lower.
National Park Service spokeswoman Cyndy Holda said that an ideal water temperature and perfect conditions on Wednesday are what possibly attracted the shark.
She said, “The combination of beautiful warm water, a lot of bait fish and smaller fish attracting sharks, and other large fish — and then add all of these people in the water — it’s a recipe for accidents or disasters.”
She also attributed the swimmers getting too close to where people are fishing as one of the reasons why there has been an upsurge in the attacks.
“They’ll feed on people, too, if they happen to be standing in their way. But they’re not specifically seeking people out,” she said.
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