CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston waterways are home to about nine species of sharks.
“We have Atlantic Sharpnose, Bonnethead, Hammerhead, Finetooth, Blacktip, Sandbar, Tiger, Lemon and Bull sharks,” said Ashley Galloway, a marine biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Galloways said that Blacktip and Bull sharks can be found the most around our beaches and rivers, but they are only here for hunting fish.
“When you’re swimming you should not be very worried at all. They are out and about, but humans aren’t prey,” said Galloway. “They’re minding their own business and they’re just looking for food.”
Galloway says that fearing a shark will bite you if it’s in the water is unreasonable. Sharks are aware of humans, but try to avoid us.
“If you see a dorsal fin come up just avoid going in and don’t harass them,” said Galloway. “(Harassing them) will make it nervous and it is not a natural thing for them to see. It could result in a potential incident.”
Sharks in the Lowcountry range from small to large and if they do bite a human it’s almost always a case of mistaken identity in murky water as the shark chases fish.
“Typically it’s a quick hit and run. They’re grabbing and releasing very quickly so the person doesn’t even know how to react by the time it’s over. Very rarely would a shark every hold on to you and grab you,” said Galloway. “Typically once they realize that’s not their typical food item they’ll release right away and just continue swimming.”
The South Carolina Aquarium is having Shark Week events from July 16 to 24.
Aquarium biologists say that “sharks help maintain healthy ecosystems by munching on weak or unhealthy prey and by keeping other species’ populations at an optimum level.”