After 8 shark bites in North Carolina in 2015, what will 2016 bring?

Posted at 10:48 PM, Apr 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-03 22:48:08-04

Dare County, N.C. (WTKR) - Shark researchers are closely observing water and weather conditions that could impact shark migration this summer.

In 2015, a record was set when 8 people were bitten by sharks off the coast of North Carolina in June and July.

Charles Bangley is a PhD candidate at East Carolina University who studies sharks.

He says there's evidence that sharks off the coast of Florida are already migrating towards North Carolina with warmer ocean waters.

"With the mild winter we’ve had, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of our warm water species show up early. If this kind of milder, more spread weather continues through the summer, then we may see them stick around later in the year too," Bangley said in an interview with NewsChannel 3's Margaret Kavanagh.

Whether there are more sharks off the coast of North Carolina coinciding with summer vacations that bring more people to the ocean may depend on timing and temperatures, according to Bangley.

"If we do get a similar sudden heat wave like last year, then you can probably expect to see all those migrating schools of fish and the following sharks compressed into one area like they were last year."

Even if conditions do mirror last year, Bangley says that doesn't mean there will necessarily be more sharks or shark bites.

"Predicting what fish are going to do is kind of a chancey game," he said with a laugh.

Bangley also offers a bit of comfort to anyone concerned about the chances of being bitten by a shark.

"While accidents do happen, your odds of being bitten by a shark, especially considering the number of people in the water and the number of sharks around, are still very, very low, even in a situation like last year."

Officials do recommend people stay out of the water at dawn and dusk when sharks tend to be hunting their prey.

2015 Shark Bites in North Carolina: 

  • July 4, a man was bitten in Surf City, NC and treated at Camp Lejeune for minor injuries
  • July 1, a 68-year-old man was pulled under water by a shark on Ocracoke Island. He was bitten on his rib cage, hip, lower leg, and both hands.
  • June 27, an 18-year-old was swimming with other people near Waves when the shark bit his calf, buttocks and both hands.
  • June 26, 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.
  • June 24, 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.
  • June 14, 12-year-old Kiersten Yow from Archdale and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado both lost their arms in shark attacks at Oak Island.
  • June 11, a 13-year-old girl was bitten while boogie boarding off Ocean Isle Beach.