Officials: Marks on boy from shark bite
By Kelly Marshall
The Sun News
Wildlife officials said deep bite marks indicate that a 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy swimming Sunday morning near 34th Avenue North was bitten by a shark.
It was the second confirmed shark attack this summer in the Carolinas and the first for Myrtle Beach.
"I'm sure it was an unintentional bite," said Glenn Ulrich, a fishery biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. "It's quite rare, when you think of people in the water throughout the Southeastern U.S. These sharks don't have an interest in man as prey."
The victim, Jacob Kolessar of Mountain Top, Pa., received numerous stitches and is recovering from bites on his side and chest, said his aunt, Stephanie Laibinis.
The boy could have been bitten by a small blacktip shark, Ulrich said. Blacktips feed close to shore and favor small-bait fish, Ulrich said. Kolessar told emergency workers he saw several small-bait fish swimming near him.
"He wanted to be a dolphin trainer," Laibinis said. "I hope that didn't change it. He loves dolphins, but I'm worried he won't want to do that anymore."
He was swimming with his grandfather, John Grassi, when he encountered the shark near the shore.
There have been few shark attacks in the Carolinas in the past 10 years and no fatal bites in South Carolina since the 1800s, according to statistics compiled by the Florida Museum of Natural History.
At least one person died from a shark attack in North Carolina in 2001.
At least one other person has been bitten by a shark this summer, near Holden Beach, N.C., on July 15. An unconfirmed bite was reported near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., earlier this month, according to a park ranger at Fort Fisher Recreational Area.
Chris Humphrey, 22, who was vacationing at Holden Beach in mid-July, underwent surgery for his injuries. He is recovering from the shark attack and has returned to work, a family friend said.
The Kolessar family also was vacationing at the beach when the 8-year-old was bitten.
Kolessar, who has three younger brothers, had arrived Saturday in Myrtle Beach with his family, his aunt said.
The family was trying to squeeze in a vacation before Kolessar returned to school and had been to the beach before when Jacob was an infant, Laibinis said.
"It was devastating when I heard it [Sunday night]," she said. "It was very frightening. I hope he heals properly and doesn't have any long-term damage. I don't know how many stitches he got. He is a very tiny little boy."
Ulrich said swimmers should avoid the ocean at dusk and dawn, which is feeding time for sharks.
Sharks have good eyesight but are first attracted to motion and scent in the water, he said.
"When you see bait fish getting excited and jumping out of the water, then I would avoid going in the water," he said. "Usually that means that something is underneath them, feeding on them."