Shark attacks in southeast U.S. causing concern

Rip currents are also a huge concern

(CNN) – Up and down the southeast U.S. this holiday weekend, beachgoers are concerned about sharks. A series of attacks is making some leery about dipping their toes into the ocean.

New video out of Florida shows a kayaker fishing for grouper, and getting a bigger bite than he bargained for: a bull shark. Then, frantically swimming for safety, as he says others circled nearby.

Close encounters with sharks have holidaymakers on alert this weekend, especially on the east coast.

At least 10 attacks in the Carolinas since June – 7 in North Carolina alone. That’s one more than the yearly average for both states in just the past month.

Christian Panko, from the Marine Conservation Lab at the University of Miami, said, “A lot of people are utilizing the beach, and this time of year, we also have the migration of a lot of coastal species.”

Experts say that along with shark migration, a buffet of nesting sea turtles, and warmer, saltier water could attract more sharks to the beach.

In South Carolina, fishermen are now reeling in sharks from the pier in Myrtle Beach. Babies yes, but moms are not far off.

The victims of the 10 recent bites range in age from 8 to 68, with two teenagers losing limbs after their encounters.

Panko said, “Any shark bite on purpose is pretty rare, is a rare occurrence. To have all these bites occurring recently is very unusual.”

Unusual and unintentional. Experts say humans are not targets for sharks, and that these attacks are unfortunate accidents. Panko said, “When your hands and feet are splashing this looks like fish bellies to them. They realize they made a mistake and spit us back out again.”

Still, those looking to soak up the sun have mixed feelings about sharing the water.

Beachgoer Megan Malone said, “I was trying to put the shark thing off my mind so I wouldn’t get scared. I just tried to enjoy it, but I did also try to be careful.”

The beaches will remain open. Lifeguards on duty are saying sharks aren’t the biggest danger this weekend. Ocean rescue captain Jeremy Owens said, “I’d be more concerned about driving down the beach and getting in a car wreck on the way down here than I would be having an incident with a shark.”

Rip currents are also a huge concern this holiday weekend. Lifeguards up and down the east coast are increasing patrols, going to two-man duty.

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