Authorities are urging beachgoers to avoid ocean swimming after two separate Oak Island shark attacks resulted in the mauling of two youths.
Vacationers returned cautiously on Monday, however, few of them dared to enter the water.
On Sunday afternoon, a 12 year-old-girl swimming in the shallow waters lost her left arm (just below the elbow) and suffered a leg injury in the first Oak Island shark attack. Soon after (approximately one and a half hours later), a second child, a 16 year old boy, was attacked. He too lost an arm.
The Sunday attacks caused widespread panic, the 911 call recordings reveal, as bystanders were yelling:
“It bit a man’s arm off! He’s bleeding, we need an ambulance!”
Immediately after the second attack, authorities began scouring the beaches warning tourists to not enter the water. However, a later statement by Oak Island town manager, Tim Holloman, revealed that, according to state law, Oak Island authorities could not bar tourists from accessing the beaches.
State law guarantees public beach access, Holloman said, noting that Oak Island did not have any ordinance to authorize officials to order the surf cleared, even in the case of repeated shark attacks.
Shark experts, however, insist that authorities must warn beachgoers after such an attack. Oak Island authorities had only issued warnings after the second shark attack, acknowledging that they hadn’t made concerted efforts to clear the beaches after the first shark attack.
Lifesaving Association president, Chris Brewster, defends Oak Island authorities. He explains that, even in the case of lifeguard supervised beaches, standard procedure only implies warning beachgoers. “It’s up to people to make their own decisions.”
On Sunday, authorities had spotted a 7-foot shark swimming in the area where the two attacks occurred. However, it isn’t uncommon for sharks of that size to swim along the coast. It’s likely, shark experts claim, that the same shark was responsible for both attacks.
Beaches are ideal attractions for sharks, especially since pier fishing can excite the animal’s senses. In addition to fishing, children splashing at the shore further attract sharks, which detect movement.
The two victims of Sunday’s Oak Island shark attacks were immediately rushed to the hospital. The 12-year-old girl had to suffer an amputation of her left arm, below the elbow. The boy’s arm, on the other hand, had to be amputated below the shoulder.
Both victims were in stable condition on Monday. They were recovering at the Wilmington New Hanover Regional Medical Center.
Authorities recommend to avoid swimming altogether, however, if entering the water, beachgoers should avoid attacks by not swimming during twilight or darkness hours, when the predators are most active. Additionally, swim in groups, as sharks most often attack individuals.
Image Source: Times Union