More Beachgoers Reason for Increased Shark Attacks

People assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., Sunday, June 14, 2015.
People assist a teenage girl at the scene of a shark attack in Oak Island, N.C., Sunday, June 14, 2015.

Scientists say wildlife protection measures are helping sharks rebound, but they aren’t the only reason for the uptick in encounters between the fish and humans.

Expanding human populations and growing use of beaches are major factors, too.

Recent shark attacks in North Carolina and Florida have made headlines as the summer beach-going season approaches.

In North Carolina, 16-year-old Hunter Treschl lost most of his left arm in a shark attack while swimming on the beach.

“I thought it felt like a big fish, and I started moving away. And then the shark bit my arm – off,” said Treschl.

A little more than an hour before the shark attacked Treschl and about 2 miles away Sunday, a 12-year-old Asheboro girl, Kiersten Yow, lost her left arm below the elbow and suffered a leg injury when a shark bit her.

The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File says the number of unprovoked shark attacks has grown in every decade since the 1970s. The file’s publisher and shark researcher George Burgess says this decade will almost definitely set a new record.

Greg Skomal, a Massachusetts scientist, says encounters with marine animals are inevitable as long people keep visiting their habitat.

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