While “shark attack” is an often-used term, it’s not really accurate because sharks don’t seek out humans to “attack,” they’re just doing what comes naturally in the wild.
Sharks are opportunistic feeders and occasionally bite a surfer or swimmer if they venture into murky waters and splash a lot at the surface. This splashing action sends the shark a signal that you may be wounded, and therefore an easy meal.
North Carolina sharks do not act like they are portrayed in the movies. A shark will not stalk your boat, or jump up and take down a helicopter because they do not like you, or your passengers. Most shark species have a comparatively small brain in proportion to their body size, and hunt by instinct, not because of hatred, or dislike of any human.
There are about 73 species of shark that live or pass through North Carolina waters each year. The availability, and numbers of the various species changes with each season.
As this is Shark Week, which began Sunday and ends July 18, we will talk specifically about those found in area waters during the summer. Shark Week originated 33 years ago on the Discovery Channel.
It is important to note that if you choose to target fishing for these beautiful creatures, you are required by law to use a circle hook at all times.
“North Carolina’s coast is a very sharky place. The fact that important shark habitat includes the state’s estuaries often surprises locals and visitors alike,” said Chuck Bangley, a former graduate student at East Carolina University and writer for NC Sea Grant’s Coastwatch magazine. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
“So far, my surveys and North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries data have identified a dozen shark species in North Carolina estuaries. Many of those occur often enough to be considered regular members of these ecosystems. The murky waters conceal crucial feeding grounds for these predators, many of which are simply migrating through as they journey up and down the East Coast,” he said.