At least one and a half limbs were yesterday lost on the same stretch of beach in North Carolina, after two separate shark attacks occurred within 90 minutes of each other. The two teenage victims, who had both been out bodyboarding near Ocean Crest Fishing Pier in Oak Island, are now thought to be in a stable condition.
The first incident took place around 4pm, when a 13-year old girl was bitten on her left side. Her left arm was subsequently amputated at the elbow, and she may yet lose her left leg, according to a Facebook post by Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace.
At around 5.30pm, while the girl was still being attended to on the beach by paramedics, emergency services received reports of another attack roughly two miles away. The injured party was this time a 16-year old boy, the remainder of whose left-arm had to be amputated below the shoulder. According to witness Jason Hunter, who spoke with CNN affiliate WWAY, “his arm was clean off” following the attack.
Both casualties were airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, and swimmers were cleared from the water along the length of the beach. It is not known if the same shark was responsible for both attacks, but Wallace told CNN that “common sense would tell you it’s the same shark.” She said she couldn’t remember another attack having happened in Oak Island, so rare are attacks in the area — although there was an attack 30 miles up the coast last Thursday, when another 13-year old girl suffered lacerations to her foot.
George Burgess, who directs the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says sharks seen along Carolina coasts are generally blacktip and spinner sharks, in the 6 to 7 feet range. Due to the serious nature of the injuries sustained yesterday, however, there are suggestions that the shark or sharks involved may have belonged to a bigger and more aggressive species.