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More likely to be hit by lightning: 33 shark attacks in North Carolina in 10 years

Crystal – the 11.4-foot, 608-pound tiger shark, named for the Crystal Pier at Wrightsville Beach – makes her home off of North Carolina’s coast and was most recently spotted July 3 near Ocracoke and Cedar Island, according to the OCEARCH research group tracker.
Crystal – the 11.4-foot, 608-pound tiger shark, named for the Crystal Pier at Wrightsville Beach – makes her home off of North Carolina’s coast and was most recently spotted July 3 near Ocracoke and Cedar Island, according to the OCEARCH research group tracker. OCEARCH

You’re more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a shark in the United States.

In the past 10 years, North Carolina has had 33 attacks. It ranks No. 4 (tied with California) for the most shark attacks in the country, according to the international shark attack file at the University of Florida.

North Carolina has averaged two to three shark attacks per year for the past 14 years and has not had a fatal attack since 2001. The most shark attacks North Carolina has had in a single year in the past decade was eight in 2015. There were three attacks in 2016.

Your risk of being attacked by a shark is 11.5 million to one, and you’re more likely to die of the flu, be in a car accident or be struck by lightning.

Since 2007, the United States has had 443 non-fatal shark attacks and six fatal shark attacks. The U.S. sees about 45 shark attacks per year, or about 41 per year since 2001.

Most shark-attack victims were surfing or swimming when attacked.

Florida and Hawaii recorded the most shark attacks, with Florida leading the way with 244 in the past 10 years and Hawaii with 65.

Great white, tiger and bull sharks are responsible for the most human attacks, but there are more than 375 shark species in the ocean.

For more information on shark attacks, go to www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/fish/isaf/shark-attacks-maps-data/trends/usa-highest-attacks.

Tagged sharks off N.C. coast

Crystal – the 11.4-foot, 608-pound tiger shark named for the Crystal Pier at Wrightsville Beach – makes her home off of North Carolina’s coast and was most recently spotted July 3 near Ocracoke and Cedar Island, according to the OCEARCH research group tracker.

Crystal stays faithful to the North Carolina coast, except for a brief trip along the southern Virginia coast since she was tagged on June 20, 2016.

For more information on Crystal, go to www.ocearch.org/profile/crystal.

Hilton, the 12.5-foot, 1,326-pound mature male great white shark, was spotted just off Cape Lookout last weekend, according to the OCEARCH tracker. For comparison, the average Toyota Camry or Honda Civic is about 15 feet long.

Hilton has been tracked near North and South Carolina dozens of times since he was tagged by OCEARCH on March 3.

The sharks are tracked by “pings.” When a tagged shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface, it transmits a signal to a satellite, which then sends geographical data.

For more information on Hilton, go to www.ocearch.org/profile/hilton.

Shark safety tips

▪ Swim in a group: Most shark attacks are on individuals, as sharks can mistake humans for other ocean animals.

▪ Stay close to shore: If you swim out too far, you’ll isolate yourself, be far from help and be closer to sharks’ typical territory in deeper waters farther from the beach.

▪ Avoid swimming at night: Sharks are more active at night and you won’t be able to see them approach in the dark.

▪ Don’t go in the water if shark warnings are posted: If a shark has been sighted, don’t enter the water until further notice.

▪ Be careful near sandbars and ocean dropoffs: Sharks tend to swim in these deeper areas.

▪ Don’t enter the water with an open wound: Sharks can be attracted to blood, so if you’re bleeding, don’t go in the water.

▪ Watch for sea life: Sharks eat fish and other sea creatures, so they may follow them as they hunt.

▪ Use common sense: Be alert when swimming. You are entering the shark’s territory, so respect the shark and its natural habitat.

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