A 12-year-old boy is home in Utah now after he was bitten by a shark while swimming off Isle of Palms this week. The attack, one of at least eight along the coast of the Carolinas in recent weeks, comes just days before the busiest beach days of the year. Beach-goers tell News 2 the scariest part is the bite happened so close to shore.
Alene Weakley, mother of the shark bite victim, says, “They had been playing there for about 45 minutes. The surf was coming up and my son was laying down, like with his face forward and his feet behind him, and they were only about 10 to 15 feet out.”
Kysen Weakley, the 12-year-old who was bitten by the shark, says, “I felt like a pinch and I like turned around and saw like the shark’s fin swimming away.”
The bite was in Kysen’s leg, and required eight stitches. Shark experts say shark bites are usually just a mistake and the shark is just hunting for fish.
Jen Skoy, Marine Biologist at the South Carolina Aquarium, says, “If that’s where the fish are, that’s where the shark’s going to be. Sharks aren’t interested in us, it doesn’t matter if the sharks are in ankle deep or chest deep water. They are just there for the fish and when they see a white flash of skin, they don’t know if that’s a fish or a foot.”
She says this isn’t any unusual shark activity, but in the summertime more people are in the water, which means they just cross paths with sharks more often.
Skoy says, “The chances of you getting bit by a shark are extremely rare. You’re more likely to be injured by a toilet or a falling coconut than being bit by a shark at the beach.”
But with this bite so fresh in their minds, some people on Isle of Palms say they plan to stay out of the water.
They say, “I’m just kind of staying back, not really going into it.”
“Nervous. Makes me not want to get in it as much any more.”
“I’ve always been cautious about swimming in the water like that, but it makes me even more now.”
But others told us they’ve always known the risks of getting in the water, and this bite doesn’t change their minds.
One man visiting IOP from Tennessee says, “No, we’ll still go in the water.”
Even Kysen, who is recovering from a shark bite, says he’ll get back in the ocean.
He says, “I guess I kind of do have that little bit of fear of, oh no, is it going to come back or am I going to get bit again by a shark? But I think for the most part I’m fine with getting back in the ocean.”
Shark experts have a few suggestions to avoid a shark bite, including: don’t swim at dawn or dusk, don’t swim near fishing piers where bait is in the water, avoid murky water, don’t wear shiny jewelry or bright colors, and always be aware of your surroundings.
If you are bitten by a shark, experts say you should punch it in the nose to make it release its grip, and seek medical attention immediately.