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16_5_34gif-1.jpg Shark Attacks? Two such strikes in September 2001 shocked vacationers in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Over the same Labor Day weekend, a 9-foot bull shark mortally injured a 10-year-old boy surfing at Sandbridge, and a 10-foot tiger shark killed a Russian man in the surf off the Hatteras Island village of Avon, N.C. The tiger also bit off the foot of the man’s girlfriend.

The killings prompted then-Gov. Jim Gilmore to create a much-snickered-at Virginia Shark Task Force to look for answers. Biologists insisted the killings were a freak occurrence. The task force found no answers. No serious shark attack has been reported in the region since.

Swimmers entering the ocean should keep in mind the following to reduce the possibility of shark attack:

  • Stay in groups - sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.
  • Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight hours when sharks are most active and have a competitive sensory advantage. - The 2001 attacks in Virginia Beach occurred around 6:00 p.m.
  • Do not enter the water if bleeding from an open wound or if menstruating.
  • Don’t wear shiny jewelry. The shark mistakes the reflected light for the sheen of fish scales.
  • Don’t swim where there is a lot of fishing activity. The use of bait fish will draw the sharks.
  • Diving seabirds are good indications of the presence of fish.
  • The presence of porpoises does not mean there are no sharks.
  • Sandbars and areas with steep dropoffs are favorite hangouts for sharks.
  • Statistically, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or die in a car crash than you are to be attacked by a shark.

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Does that last statistic hold for those of us who kayak out baits? Or is it just for the average person who vacations at the beach once a year?

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I wouldn't think that would apply to yaking out bait, especially at night.

You are 16 times more likely to be bitten by a pig than you are by a shark.

Just be very cautious if you see a fuzzy tail coming through the water and hear an oink...

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