07/20/2002 Katherine Strong ( North Carolina )

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2002.
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07/20/2002 Katherine Strong ( North Carolina )

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EMERALD ISLE — A suspected shark attack in Emerald Isle over the weekend 15-year-old Mary Katherine Strong of Greensboro was bitten Saturday by what a marine expert identified as a 6-to-7-foot bull shark.

Shark Attack deterring few swimmers

EMERALD ISLE — A suspected shark attack in Emerald Isle over the weekend isn’t keeping swimmers out of the beach town’s waters

Monday, vacationers ventured into the ocean near the site where 15-year-old Mary Katherine Strong of Greensboro was bitten Saturday by what a marine expert identified as a 6-to-7-foot bull shark.

Ken Sensor of Collingswood, N.J., said Monday the attack wasnÂ’t going to keep him out of the water.

“Not at the prices I pay to get down here,” he said.

Ken and his wife, Nancy, were on the beach less than a block from the attack all day Saturday, but went inside at 4:30, about a half-hour before it happened

Nancy said the rare prospect of a shark attack makes her a little reticent of the ocean, but doesnÂ’t keep her out of it

“I’m always a little nervous about it,” she said.

Resort town issues advisory

Emerald Isle town officials issued an advisory Monday morning listing steps swimmers could take to avoid trouble with sharks. Meanwhile Strong was recovering from surgery at Duke University Medical Center. She was listed in good condition Monday afternoon.

Strong had just arrived for vacation with her parents and was swimming in about 4 feet of water near the 6600 block of Ocean Drive around 5 p.m. while her family unpacked the car. She was in the water for about five minutes before something bit her leg. She got out of the water on her own.

Although Strong suffered no broken bones, Mary Metzler, chief of Emerald Isle Emergency Medical Services, said the bite caused “massive damage.”

“It grabbed her from the back of her calf,” Metzler said Sunday. “You could see the bite marks pretty well.

“The back of her calf was pretty well chewed.”

Strong did not see the fish, but an emergency room doctor at Carteret General Hospital, where she was originally taken, said the wound was most likely from a shark, said Emerald Isle Town Manager Frank Rush.

“To my knowledge, nobody saw the shark,” he said.

Rush said Frank Schwartz, a shark expert at the UNC Marine Lab in Morehead City, also suspects a shark.

“I sent him a picture of the wound, and he confirmed that it was a 6 or 7-foot bull shark, weighing about 190 pounds,” Rush said.

While shark attacks receive heavy publicity, they are rare. Before SaturdayÂ’s attack, there had only been three shark attacks off the coast of Emerald Isle: one in 1971, one in 1976 and one in August 2000.

But the International Shark Attack Files, a group that tracks incidents, does not list the 1971 event. And town officials still dispute whether a shark was the culprit in the 2000 attack.

“Town staff still believes the one in August of 2000 was not caused by a shark,” Rush said.

In that case, Daniel Macatee of Maryland was swimming toward some porpoise when a fish bit him. Town officials think he was bitten when he swam through a school of bluefish or king mackerel about 100 yards offshore.

Earlier this year, a shark was suspected in an attack on a 9-year-old girl at Wrightsville Beach, but officials later blamed the attack on another species.

One of the two fatal shark attacks off North CarolinaÂ’s coast occurred in 1957 in nearby Salter Path. The other occurred last year near Avon on Hatteras Island.

Swimmers Monday said they would look with caution at the ocean but continue to enjoy the water.

Jennifer Sandruck of Baltimore said she wasnÂ’t going to keep her kids out of the ocean. But she always keeps an eye on them.

“You are always cautious at the ocean, anyway,” she said.

Patrica Taylor of Bluefield, W.Va., said Monday she wasnÂ’t too concerned about the shark attack as she and her family played on the beach near Fifth Street.

“I haven’t really told the girls,” she said. “I’m afraid they’ll flip out.

“I think the likelihood is pretty slim.”

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