Man bitten by shark on NC Outer Banks is 7th this summer

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How Common Are U.S. Shark Attacks?


OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) — A shark bit a 68-year-old man several times Wednesday in waist-deep water off North Carolina's Outer Banks, officials said, the seventh attack in the state's coastal waters in less than three weeks.

A hospital spokeswoman had no report of his condition Wednesday afternoon.

The man suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and both hands as he tried to fight off the animal, said Justin Gibbs, the director of emergency services in Hyde County. The attack happened around noon on a beach on Ocracoke Island, he said.

"The individual was actually located right in front of the lifeguard tower when it occurred," said Gibbs, who said witnesses reported the animal was about 7 feet long. "He was pulled under by the shark. He was bit several times."

He was swimming in waist-deep water with his adult son about 30 feet offshore, the National Park Service said in a news release. There were no other swimmers injured.

The man is the seventh person attacked along the North Carolina coast in three weeks, the most in at least 15 years. Most were attacked in water similarly shallow. The injuries ranged from minor injuries to the heel and ankle of an 8-year-old boy in Surf City to unspecified but initially critical injuries to an 18-year-old man bitten Saturday on a national seashore about 25 miles north of Cape Hatteras.

Shark experts say the recent spate of attacks along on the coast of the Carolinas is due to so many more people getting in the water. Americans made 2.2 billion visits to beaches in 2010, up from 2 billion in 2001, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate.

SHARK ATTACKS

Roger Rulifson, a distinguished professor of biology and senior scientist at East Carolina University, said recently that there have been reports of small bait fish coming closer to shore this summer, which attracts sharks. There have also been reports of larger numbers of sea turtles along the coast, which sharks also like to eat, he said.

Laura Irish Hefty of New Hope, Pennsylvania, said she was about 100 yards away when she saw a crowd gathering on the beach and went to investigate. She said her husband, David, saw blood on both of the man's legs.

The man was treated on the beach for about 20 minutes until he was stabilized and carried off the sand and beyond the dunes to a road, Hefty said. An emergency helicopter flew him to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, about 85 miles east of the barrier island.

Swimmers were back in the water at that spot within a couple of hours after the attack, Hefty said.

"Nobody seems to be that scared," she said.

See photos from two attacks in June:

14 PHOTOS
North Carolina Teens Shark Attacks
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Man bitten by shark on NC Outer Banks is 7th this summer
In this image taken from video provided by New Hanover Regional Medical Center, 16-year-old Hunter Treschl, of Colorado Springs, Colo., speaks during an interview at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, N.C., Tuesday, June 16, 2015. The teen was seriously wounded in a shark attack. "We were just playing around in the waves, and I felt a hit on my left calf," Treschl said in a videotaped interview released Tuesday night by the hospital where he is being treated. "I thought it felt like a big fish, and I started moving away. And then the shark bit my arm off." (New Hanover Regional Medical Center via AP)
Emergency responders assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., Sunday, June 14, 2015. Mayor Betty Wallace of Oak Island, a seaside town bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, said that hours after the teenage girl suffered severe injuries in a shark attack Sunday a teenage boy was also severely injured. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP) 
People assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., Sunday, June 14, 2015. Mayor Betty Wallace of Oak Island, a seaside town bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, said that hours after the teenage girl suffered severe injuries in a shark attack Sunday a teenage boy was also severely injured. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP)
Emergency responders assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., Sunday, June 14, 2015. Mayor Betty Wallace of Oak Island, a seaside town bordered to the south by the Atlantic Ocean, said that hours after the teenage girl suffered severe injuries in a shark attack Sunday a teenage boy was also severely injured. (Steve Bouser/The Pilot, Southern Pines, N.C. via AP)
This is the scene right now in Oak Island at the 58th access after two reported shark bites. (Heather Eccard Grube) http://t.co/sUV6Feg6wg
Two teens lose limbs in separate shark attacks in North Carolina http://t.co/Zw1ZyFjXDH http://t.co/By2cuj2giM
Vacationers relax on the bench and in the surf in Oak Island, N.C., Monday, June 15, 2015. A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm about an hour later and 2 miles away in two separate shark attacks late Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A helicopter flies over the Ocean Crest Pier in Oak Island, N.C., Monday, June 15, 2015. A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm about an hour later and 2 miles away in two separate shark attacks late Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A woman stands in the surf on the beach in Oak Island, N.C., Monday, June 15, 2015. A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm about an hour later and 2 miles away in two separate shark attacks late Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Will Rudisill, 10, of Raleigh, N.C., left, and Stella Cross, 11, of Matthews, N.C., right, walk with their skim boards on the beach in Oak Island, N.C., Monday, June 15, 2015. A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm about an hour later and 2 miles away in two separate shark attacks late Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Vacationers sit in chairs in the surf in Oak Island, N.C., Monday, June 15, 2015. A 12-year-old girl from Asheboro lost part of her arm and suffered a leg injury, and a 16-year-old boy from Colorado lost his left arm about an hour later and 2 miles away in two separate shark attacks late Sunday afternoon. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Map locates Oak Island and Ocean Isle Beach, N.C.; 3c x 4 inches; 146 mm x 101 mm;
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