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East Carolina researcher says 2016 could be a historic year for shark attacks

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GREENVILLE, N.C. – An East Carolina University researcher said 2016 could be another historic year for shark attacks.

WNCT reported that researcher Chuck Bangley said all the ingredients are present for another historic year for shark attacks.

Last year, there were 98 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, surpassing the previous record of 88 in 2000.

Of those attacks, eight were along the North Carolina coast. Bangley said the spike last year was most likely due to water temperature and timing.

George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, previously told FOX8 there were several environmental factors that contributed to the high amount of shark attacks along the North Carolina coast last year.

The warmer than normal temperatures helped raise the water temperature. A lack of substantial rain in North Carolina also meant the ocean water was not being diluted with fresh river water. Sharks like both warm water and high salinity.

There was also plenty of food drawing sharks closer to the beaches. Burgess said there was an abundance of bait fish and sea turtles along the coast, giving sharks a reason to be close to visitors.

“Lots of people, lots of sharks, lots of food in the water — that’s a formula for shark attacks,” said Burgess.