Shark bite season is back! But don't sweat it
Tue, 16 Jul 2013 21:51:25 GMT —
Cue the music from "Jaws": sharks are back on the Grand Strand. A man was taken to the hospital after a possible shark bite at Litchfield Beach Monday.
And there's certainly plenty of evidence that more sharks are off the coast of the South Strand. Beachgoers there find sharks' teeth all over the place.
But Claire McCreight of Greenville, who's spent a lot of time swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding off Litchfield Beach, doesn't give sharks much thought.
"I've been coming here my whole life and have never seen a shark out there, so it's not something that's a big fear because I haven't had experience seeing it," McCreight said.
That's the right attitude to take, says SC Department of Natural Resources marine biologist Dean Cain.
He says there are only two or three shark bites recorded off South Carolina each year, and most of those are of the minor nip-and-run variety.
"We have had only one fatality in South Carolina that we know of a shark bite and that was in 1883," said Cain.
Sharks certainly look scary, as proven by the picture of what Cain believes is a sharp-toothed 7-foot lemon shark caught recently off Garden City.
But he says people's fears of the animals are exaggerated.
"We certainly believe the movie Jaws much more than we should."
Though shark bites are still very rare, this is the prime season for them along the Grand Strand, mostly because there are more people out in the ocean, but also because there's more food for the sharks close to shore.
"As the waters warm up above 80 degrees, food becomes a little scarce and typically moves offshore, but the schools that remain, remain right in the surf zone, and that's where we swim," Cain said.
To avoid shark bites, Cain suggests staying out of water that looks murky, not wearing yellow, red or bright-colored clothing and not going in the ocean if you've been bleeding, because sharks can smell blood from miles away.
But mostly, he says, just don't worry too much about sharks at all.