New details emerge about two shark attacks

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OAK ISLAND, N.C. — New details emerged during a press conference Monday morning about two shark attacks at the same beach off the coast of North Carolina.

The 13-year-old girl, who lost an arm, is from Archdale, officials said. She was visiting family. The 16-year-old boy, who also lost an arm, is from Colorado Springs, Colo. The names of the victims have since been released.

Editor’s note: The male victim was initially reported to be from Winston-Salem. He is actually from Colorado Springs, Colo. Law enforcement and civic officials at a press conference this morning said the boy was from Winston-Salem. However, New Hanover Regional Medical Center officials said today the mother of the boy told the hospital he lives in Colorado Springs. 

Both attacks, which happened Sunday, occurred in waist-deep water about 20 yards off shore.

Both teens are out of surgery and in stable condition but “have a long road ahead of them.” New Hanover Regional Medical Center hospital officials said both their injuries were life-threatening and credited the quick action of bystanders who stopped the bleeding and helped save their lives.

Oak Island beaches are open today but officials said they will have helicopters up as air monitors at least three times during the day to watch for sharks.

Officials were not able to tell what type of shark it was that attacked the teenagers. They also could not confirm the size of the shark or whether it was one or two although authorities said bystanders reported seeing two sharks in the water soon after the attacks.

Witness Jason Hunter told CNN affiliate WWAY that the shark in the attack on the boy was seven or eight feet long.

Brunswick County Dispatchers said that they received the first call at 4:40 p.m. The second shark attack was reported at 5:51 p.m. 911 calls made right after the attacks also were released Monday. Listen to them here.

Both incidents occurred at high tide in the vicinity of Ocean Crest Pier, a popular destination among beach goers. Oak Island is a southerly facing beach town on the state’s southern-most coast.

About four or five people are bitten by sharks on North Carolina beaches each year, said George Burress, an ichthyologist and fisheries biologist with the Florida Museum of Natural History. The incidents usually involve smaller sharks, he said.

“Having a series of injuries so close to each other in time and space makes this unusual,” he said. “Two in one day very close to each other suggests that there’s a focused problem. It might suggest a single shark has been involved.”

He suspects the predator could be either a bull or tiger shark, both of which are undaunted by larger prey, he said.

“They may have interpreted the humans as being appropriate in size and behavior to give it a shot,” the researcher said.

Only three times in the four decades that he’s been studying sharks has Burgess seen attacks happen “so closely in time and space,” he said. The other incidents occurred in Egypt and Florida.

Any number of factors, including an abundance of fish or nesting turtles, could draw sharks to the area, Burgess said.

Burgess urged people to remember that despite the horrific nature of Sunday’s attacks, shark attacks are unusual. Last year saw 72 attacks, only three of which were fatal, he said.

“Considering the billions of hours we spend in the sea,” he said, “it’s clear that shark attacks aren’t common.”

CNN contributed to this report.

A 13-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy each lost an arm Sunday, June 14, 2015, in separate shark attacks at an Oak Island, North Carolina beach.
A 13-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy each lost an arm Sunday, June 14, 2015, in separate shark attacks at an Oak Island, North Carolina beach.

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