Posted on Thu, Aug. 25, 2005
2nd youth bitten by shark on Strand
17-year-old not seriously hurt; blacktip suspected in both incidents
By KELLY MARSHALL
The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News
MYRTLE BEACH — A Canadian teenager staying in North Myrtle Beach became the second shark bite victim this week on the Grand Strand. The bite on 17-year-old Nicholas House was probably from a blacktip shark, said George Burgess, a biologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Blacktip sharks are often seen in shallow water, feeding on small fish. House was bitten near Sixth Avenue South Monday afternoon. Biologists also think that a blacktip bit an 8-year-old boy Sunday at 34th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.
“I was able to examine some photographs and they are consistent with a shark bite,” Burgess said. “It is basically a raking injury. The tips of the teeth raked across (House’s) knee. It left deep scratches and one place where the tooth made an impression on the skin.”
He said in both cases the sharks were at least 3 feet in length.
“In neither case did the attacking shark make a full grab,” Burgess said.
The bites could also have been caused by a blacknose or a sharpnose shark, Burgess said. This week’s shark bites were probably the result of juvenile sharks mistaking hands and feet for food, Burgess said.
The inshore area is a “nursery” for juvenile sharks to feed and grow. Certain species of sharks spend the summer in warmer waters, then migrate south for the winter.
“When it gets below 68 degrees, they start looking for warmer water,” said Glenn Ulrich, a fisheries biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. “They spend the whole summer period close to the beaches.”
Nicholas House did not go to the hospital, but was treated for his injuries by a lifeguard, said his father, Barry House. The family will return to Beamsville, Canada on Friday.
The House family also experienced another creature encounter while on vacation. His son’s girlfriend was stung by a jellyfish on Sunday, Barry House said.
“We’ll come back,” Barry House said. “We’ve been coming for about 15 years now and we plan to come back next year.”
Ulrich and Burgess helped identify shark bites on an 8-year-old Pennsylvania boy bitten early Sunday morning.
Jacob Kolessar is recovering from several deep bites on his back and side, said his father, Robert Kolessar.
The Kolessar family is finishing their vacation this week and will return home Friday to Mountain Top, Pa.
Despite this week’s two incidents, shark bites along the Grand Strand are rare. Only one bite happened last year in South Carolina. The state has not had a shark-related fatality since the 19th century. One person was bitten by a shark last month in North Carolina, but is recovering from his injures.
Bites from blacktip sharks are not usually fatal, Burgess said. Numerous sharks in an area show that the environment is healthy and that animals are reproducing at a normal rate, he said