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Shark expert gives theory on high number of attacks

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A shark attack Wednesday on Ocracoke Island marks the seventh one in North Carolina in less than a month.

Shark researcher Chuck Bangley said that's more attacks than North Carolina typically sees in an entire year.

"It's pretty unusual," Bangley said. "Six attacks is about three times as many as we usually get in an entire year here."

Bangley is a doctoral student at Eastern Carolina University, where, with funding from a North Carolina Sea Grant, he is researching shark behavior.

He said warmer waters could be to blame for the spike in attacks. He said the heat wave in North Carolina increased water temperatures. This caused sharks to migrate in larger numbers and earlier than usual from more southern coasts like Florida's.

"And then on top of that you had more people getting in the water because all of the sudden it was 100 degrees out," he said.

Bangley said although it is still statistically rare to get bitten by a shark, there are some things you can do to decrease your likelihood of being a target.

"Swim in groups. Most bites tend to be on solitary people," he said. "Don't wear anything shiny. If a shark sees the sunlight hit a piece of jewelry the wrong way, it'll think it's sunlight reflecting off of fish scales. And steer clear of fishing activity."