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Does Shark Fishing Really Lead to Shark Attacks?

Flickr / Brook Ward

Many people blame shark fishing for the string of recent shark attacks in North Carolina.

North Carolina is one of the only states on the East Coast that still permits shark fishing, and it has experienced multiple shark attacks recently. On June 14, two attacks occurred on the same day.

Many people feel shark anglers are responsible.

Recent Attacks

The two shark attacks on June 14 occurred within 90 minutes of each other near Oak Island’s Ocean Crest Pier. Shark fishing is permitted in this area.

A 12-year-old girl was attacked 100 yards away from the pier, and then a 16-year-old boy was attacked two miles from the pier. People say fishermen attract sharks by chumming the water.

There has since been 11 shark attacks in North Carolina this summer.

Population Factor

Louis Daniel, director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, says shark fishing is not to blame for the recent attacks. He asserts the attacks happen more frequently because the shark population increased since commercial shark fishing was outlawed along most of the East Coast.

Marine Lavine, executive director of the Shark Research Institute, says reported shark attacks are usually higher in the summer, because more people visit the beach. An increased shark population and a high number of beach visitors might be the leading cause for the recent attacks.

Shark fin above ocean water

Other Factors

“It’s not a certain thing that makes this happen,” states George Burgess, director of International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Factors other than just the shark population and fisherman luring sharks near the pier lead to shark attacks.

North Carolina is also experiencing a moderate drought, with little rainfall. This makes the salinity of the waters close to shore higher than normal. The saline content in the water might bring sharks closer to shore, because most sharks, with the exception of bull sharks, prefer the high salt content in the water.

Large schools of Atlantic menhaden, a type of herring, have also been found close to shore. This type of fish is a great source of nutrition for sharks and might lure sharks near swimmers.

Lavine says this type of fish can be seen jumping out of the water high into the air. If you see this happening, it is a good idea to evacuate the water immediately.

Burgess also said sea turtles hatch this time of year and try to make their way out to sea. Sharks might lurk in the shallow waters waiting for the hatchlings.

Angler’s Perspective

“We don’t look to endanger anyone. We don’t want anyone harmed,” says fisherman Clint Childs.

“What you’re doing is you’re swimming in waters where sharks are eating, and this is why people are getting bit,” says Sharks After Dark member Melinda Colon.

There are many different factors accounting for the frequent shark attacks in North Carolina. Shark fishing might be just one reason sharks are getting closer and closer to the shore and swimmers.

What do you think? Is shark fishing really the cause of these frequent shark attacks?

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Does Shark Fishing Really Lead to Shark Attacks?