OFFICIALS: Teenager bitten by shark off Cape Hatteras

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 9:00 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2020 at 9:20 AM EDT
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CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. (WITN) - Officials say a 16-year-old was bitten by a shark off of Cape Hatteras National Seashore Thursday afternoon.

The National Park Service says the teenager was taken to a hospital in Nags Head for what they believe was a shark bite. Officials say he was about 25 feet out in the water jumping waves on a sandbar about 2.5 miles south of Salvo.

The 16-year-old has been released from the hospital and is expected to be okay. No other details are available.

This shark bite is the second in the waters off of North Carolina. Scientists at UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences say that while these incidents do happen the probability of being bitten is very low.

Dr. Joel Fodrie an Associate Professor at the University said, “I don’t want to minimize anything for those individuals, it can certainly ruin your day and it changes some people’s lives and in once in a great blue moon it’s even fatal and that’s serious but that’s focusing on the stakes and sometimes the stakes are high but the odds, I always say are really really really low.”

The Institute of Marine Sciences at UNC has been researching sharks off the North Carolina coast for over 50 years, they say the average length of a shark in the area is just 3-4 feet.

Dr. Fodrie said he understands the fear associated with sharks but encourages swimmers to realize the ocean is where they live and that there will always be a risk of an encounter when entering the water.

“To me it’s amazing that we have millions of people spending millions of hours in the water and in North Carolina we average something between 2 and 3 of these encounters in a year,” said Fodrie.

Dr. Fodrie says the best advice for those wanting to minimize the chance for a shark encounter should avoid swimming at dawn and dusk when sharks are the most active.

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