Sharks are attacking kids off the beach, there's screaming and panic in the water and the Mayor said there wasn't time to get people out of the water. It sounds like a certain movie but alarmingly this was what really happened over the weekend at Oak Island in North Carolina.
The wounds from these shark attacks were no mere graze. In both case kids lost arms on a beach where a girl had suffered less serious shark injuries a week earlier.
Just a day earlier I had been at North Carolina Aquarium showing the kids the famous shark tank. Of course shark attacks are rare, I told them. The sharks drifted graceful and silver in the tank, never showing any sign of turning vicious and attacking the large fish they shared a tank with. Still, there was something disconcerting about their button eyes. It would be cliched to say there was not a spark of humanity in them because sharks are, afterall, fish. You would, expect them to be cold fish. Nevertheless, their eyes are rather chilling.
I've never been to Oak Island but I've been down to Wilmington. It gets so humid on the North Carolina coast that it's unbearable not to go into the water. However, the victims in these attacks were only up to their waists in water.
George Burgess, the director of Florida's Program for Shark Research at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History, said blacktip and spinner sharks frequent this coast and can get up to seven feet long. He said they only tend to bite people in "mistaken identity" situations when they think splashing arms and legs are normal prey.
Mistaken identity or not, it's harrowing to lose a limb and these sharks seem rather focused.
Oak Island Mayor Better Wallace said it all happened so fast there was little time to get people out of the water.
Although there are clearly echoes of Jaws Mayor Wallace has a long way to go to become Mayor Vaughn who said: "It's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July."