VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - There's been a lot of talk about sharks lately, but experts at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach say sharks are an important part of the ecosystem.
"During these busy times of the summer, people are spending a lot of time in the ocean, they just need to be smart about the way they play in the ocean," Rachel Metz, Director of Live Exhibits told News 3's Todd Corillo. "When you go to the ocean you're absolutely going into the sharks habitat. You just need to be smart about how you do that. Choose beaches with lifeguards, avoid fishing piers."
In a year where several shark bites have already been reported in North Carolina, Metz says it's important to remember in most situations, sharks will actually avoid humans when they can.
"Sharks absolutely have a bad rap. You have a greater chance of being injured by a champagne cork or a falling coconut than you do a shark," she said.
Off the coast of Virginia Beach, Sandbar, Sand Tiger and Dogfish sharks are the most common to be swimming offshore.
Experts recommend avoiding swimming near fishing piers as well as staying out of the water at dawn and dusk when sharks are most likely to be feeding in order to decrease the chances of a shark encounter.