A shark was seen swimming dangerously close to shore near a South Carolina beach, just a few months after another shark was spotted at the same beach. The predator was caught on camera swimming in the shallows at Forest Beach on Hilton Head Island on Sunday, at 3.15 pm by local woman Jill Baricikowski Horner. Authorities say up to 12 different species of shark are known to swim in those waters. Here's what that means for beachgoers.
South Carolina Shark Attacks
Two swimmers were attacked by sharks last month (August 2022) at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's most popular beach. Karen Sites from Pittsburgh, PA, was one of the people attacked—she was waist-deep in the water with her 8-year-old grandson when the shark bit her. "I just felt something, I guess, bite me and there was a shark on my arm," Sites told WPDE-TV. "I couldn't even see the shark coming up, but all I saw was the shark jumped up and it didn't even bite all the way," said grandson Brian Sites.
Was It the Same Shark?
The other person attacked on the same day at Myrtle Beach survived with bites to the leg, just half a mile away from where Sites was bitten. Officials are not sure if the same shark was responsible for both attacks, but the incident made young Brian Sites rethink swimming in the ocean. "I'll sit on the sand but I ain't going in the water," he said.
Great White Near Myrtle Beach
To make a scary situation a little worse, researchers have been tracking a 13-foot great white shark called Breton which is lingering off the coast of Myrtle Beach. "Breton is somewhat of an anomaly. While the rest of our actively pinging white sharks are off the Northeast United States or Atlantic Canada, Breton remains in the warm waters off the Southeast," OCEARCH reported. "This is the latest we've seen one of our white sharks stay this far south in the Western North Atlantic. Typically we notice our white sharks start their migration north from mid May to June." Keep reading to see the video.
Why Do Sharks Swim So Close To Shore?
According to experts, sharks swim close to shore in search of food—fish, not humans. "These bait fish are in schools of hundreds of thousands – or millions, and when they get quite close to shore, the sharks follow them," says Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "The sharks are swimming around trying to chase their dinner. The people are swimming around splashing with beach balls in their circle. … The surf zone gets quite murky because of all the energy and the sharks are all jingled up because they're excited to see all this food – once in a while they make a mistake."
Teenage Sharks Causing Trouble
Naylor believes there are more juvenile sharks swimming around than usual, and they might be responsible for attacks on humans. "As you can imagine, (the) same with any mammals, juveniles aren't as experienced," he says. "They don't have as much pattern recognition skills as adults. We suspect strongly that it's the juveniles and their judgment and discernment between what is somebody's foot and what's a flash of a bony fish's scales. You've got a bunch of teenage sharks and they're running around chasing fish."