Earlier this week, a 13-year-old girl was bitten by a shark nearby while swimming on Ocean Isle Beach. The girl escaped with only a few cuts to her foot. These kids vacationing in Oak Island, North Carolina, were not so lucky: A 16-year-old boy lost his arm below the shoulder and another 13-year-old girl had to have her arm amputated at the elbow and may still lose a leg.
These two shark attacks in North Carolina were separate yet equally vicious. Witnesses compared the aftermath of the attacks to "a scene from Jaws." The two shark attacks occurred about 90 minutes apart. The first child attacked was the teenage girl at 4:40 p.m. on Sunday, who was visiting family at a Brunswick County island. The teenage boy was attacked just 2 miles away at 5:51 p.m.
As vacationer Steve Bouser described to the Associated Press, "I saw someone carry this girl (out of the water) and people were swarming around and trying to help. It was quite terrible."
In what Bouser called a "nightmarish" scene, bystanders tried to help stop the teen's heavy bleeding with makeshift tourniquets as they asked her questions to keep her conscious. The teens, both unidentified, were rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in critical condition after the attacks. NBC News reports that the teens have been upgraded from critical to fair condition after undergoing surgery.
Oak Island beaches will be open today, but beachgoers are encouraged not to go in the water. The Brunswick County Sheriff's Department will continue to patrol the coastline by helicopter for any dangerous activity, though Oak Island Town Manager Tim Holloman calls these attacks "highly unusual" for the area.
Highly unusual or not, there are at least four real families who have been affected by unprecedented shark attacks in the past two weeks. For families planning an upcoming vacation at the beach, summer is off to a terrible start.
I provided a few shark safety tips for families when the young boy was bitten by a shark in Florida last week. Though it's not necessary to cancel your beach trip just because of a few shark attack reports, it is necessary to take shark safety seriously this summer.
As we've learned from these frightening stories, shark attacks come quickly and without warning. These teens were mauled in broad daylight while swimming with family, and there's little that could have been done to prevent it. Still, National Geographic News provides a few important shark attack prevention tips that every family needs to know:
And finally, if the worst does happen and a shark is spotted in your area of the beach, don't panic: Get your family out of the water as quickly and as calmly as possible and wait for further direction from the lifeguards.
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