Summer 2015 Shark Bites

Contact:  [[davem,David Malmquist]]


The exact cause of a recent spate of shark-bite incidents is unknown. Increasing shark populations and unseasonably warm water may contribute.

Full Description

We provide this announcement in response to the large number of inquiries we've received during the last few weeks concerning the recent spate of shark-bite incidents in North and South Carolina.

The exact cause of these incidents is currently unknown. Shark experts at VIMS say that 2 concurrent factors may be in play:

  1. More sharks in coastal waters: Data from the VIMS Shark Research Program indicate that shark populations in mid-Atlantic waters have made a comeback in recent years from over-fishing. 
  2. Changes in environmental conditions: Coastal waters warmed quickly this year, drawing more swimmers than usual to ocean beaches during June. The warm water could also be drawing sea turtles—a food source for sharks—closer to the shore. An increase in baitfish abundance and changes in water clarity might also play a role.

Shark-bite incidents continue to be extremely rare events. Precautions to lower the already very low probability of encountering a shark include:

  • Swim between the hours of 9am and 5pm
  • Remove jewelry and other shiny accessories before entering the water
  • Avoid murky or cloudy waters
  • Refrain from swimming alone
  • Remain relatively close to the shore and in an area monitored by a lifeguard
  • Avoid swimming near fishing activities (e.g., fishing piers, surf casting, seine operations, etc.)
  • Maintain an awareness of your surroundings
Summer 2015 Shark Bite Map

Here's a synopsis of information related to shark-bite incidents reported along the Carolina coastlines during summer 2015. Locations are approximate only.