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06/07/2006 Megan Wallis (South Carolina)

Shark Attack Survivors News Archive for Shark Attacks in 2006.
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06/07/2006 Megan Wallis (South Carolina)

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Shark bites girl at Coligny Beach
BY BEN CRITES, The Island Packet
Published Thursday, June 8, 2006

A 7-year-old girl was bitten by a shark Wednesday afternoon while playing in the surf at Coligny Beach, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office said the doctor treating the girl found a tooth embedded in her left foot and thought it was a shark that bit her, even though incidents of shark bites are rare in the Lowcountry.

The girl, who was vacationing with her family, sustained several puncture wounds to her foot and buttocks during the incident at around 3:45 p.m. as she played in water about two-feet deep near the Breakers area of Coligny Beach, the Sheriff's Office said. She is the daughter of Amy B. Wallis of Ballwin, Mo., but the Sheriff's Office could not provide the girl's first name Wednesday evening.

Ralph Wagner, director of Shore Beach Service, said the girl's father brought her over to lifeguards, who immediately treated lacerations on the girl's foot. He said the incident was low-key and didn't alarm many beachgoers.

It initially was thought that the girl was stung by a stingray, Wagner said. An ambulance was called and took the girl to Hilton Head Regional Medical Center, where she continued to receive treatment Wednesday evening.

The Sheriff's Office said it appeared her injuries were not life-threatening.

Wednesday's shark-bite incident is the first reported to the Sheriff's Office this year, a release states.

Al Stokes, manager of the state Department of Natural Resources' Waddell Mariculture Center in greater Bluffton, said it's not surprising to find sharks or other marine wildlife in the surf this time of the year, as coastal waters warm and bait fish move inshore.

Sharks "are about all (local fisherman) are catching inshore right now," he said.

With the fish gravitating toward the shore, the chances of a bite have increased.

"If (the 7-year-old girl) was swimming around or thrashing about in the water," Stokes said, "it's very possible that a small shark had mistaken her for bait."

But biting incidents are very uncommon.

Charles Farmer, author of the book, "Sharks of South Carolina" and a 38-year DNR veteran, said an average of three people will be bitten by a shark in South Carolina waters each year.

Five nonfatal shark attacks were reported along South Carolina's coasts last year, according to the latest figures from the Florida Museum of Natural History.

On Hilton Head, the odds are even slimmer.

There hasn't been a report of a shark biting someone around the island since an 11-year-old boy was bitten while swimming off of Coligny Beach in 2001, according to Island Packet archives. He received 37 stitches from the attack. At the time, authorities couldn't confirm the bites were from a shark.

The last fatal shark attack off of Hilton Head occurred in 1883, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The majority of shark attacks in the United States happen in Florida, which reported 19 of the country's 39 attacks in 2005.

Yet now is the time of the most shark activity on Hilton Head, Farmer said.

About 14 species of sharks commonly are found in coastal waters in the state, including sandbar, black-tip, lemon, bull, tiger, hammerhead and Atlantic sharpnose. Most of the sharks move into coastal waters when the water begins to warm in April and stay until October or early November.

Farmer agreed with Stokes about the potential of a biting incident.

"Occasionally an animal will accidentally bump into a person, strike, release and swim away just as fast as you're trying to get out of the water," he said. "There has not been a case in 50 years where someone has been swimming and a shark will bite and come back."

Still, it's very rare, Farmer said.

"The likelihood of being bitten by a shark is extremely remote," he said, "and there's really nothing to worry about."

http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/ ... 9584c.html
Last edited by sharkbait on Thu Jun 08, 2006 9:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by sharkbait »

Beachgoers on Shark Attack

It's no surprise that millions of people head for the Hilton Head Island and the beach every summer. And this is not what you want to hear: a shark attacked a 7-year-old girl at one of the busiest beaches on the island, Coligny Beach, about mid- island.

Due to hospital privacy rules, we don't have the girl's condition at this time, though we do know she was taken to the emergency room yesterday.

While some hadn't heard the news, we did hear a lot of people talking about it at the beach today. But it certainly didn't stop very many people from hitting the beach for a day of fun in the sun.

"No, but we probably won't go out as far as we might normally have," said Jamie Swanger, visiting from Augusta, Georgia.

"Probably not," agreed Brenda Swing from Charlotte, North Carolina. "Because I don't think it happens too often. I'll keep on the lookout I guess. I may not go too far out there."

But others, like Steven Bryant, are taking any chances. "I'm scared," he said. "I've heard about a lot of shark bites. It came in real close so I'm not going in at all."

Beaufort County sheriff's deputies say it was Wednesday afternoon when a 7-year-old girl, playing in just three feet of water, was bitten by a shark on her foot and her upper thigh. It left a tooth embedded in her skin.

While no one wants to hear about a shark attack, especially on their vacation, many say it doesn't surprise them. "I think any time you play in the ocean, you're taking a chance you'd get big by something," said Kathy Brown from Lebanon, Ohio.

"Sharks are always in the water, whether you're in Hilton Head, Foley Beach, Myrtle Beach," said Joy Sowther from James Island, South Carolina. "They're here. It's their territory, and we're invading their space."

This is the first shark attack on the island since 2001.

Sheriff's deputies tell us they really don't know how big the shark actually was. According to the police report, the only thing the little girl said about it was she saw a black fish and then her foot started bleeding. That's when her dad pulled her out of the water and to a lifeguard.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

http://www.wtoctv.com/Global/story.asp? ... 3&nav=0qq6
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Post by sharkbait »

Hilton Head Shark Bite
Should You Be Concerned?
Randi Hempel
WSAV News 3
Thursday, June 8, 2006

The shark bite happened Wednesday afternoon on Coligny Beach in Hilton Head. We're told seven year old Megan Wallis, from Ballwin, Missouri was swimming when a shark bit her on the foot and behind. The Beaufort County Sheriff's office says her dad was nearby and helped stop the incident. Her mother says she's doing fine.

Lifeguards say that Thursday's beach crowd was normal but news of the shark bite kept some on guard.

The Bouvier children are fearless as they splash around at Coligny Beach a day after a child close to their age was bitten by a shark.

“It's still concerning. It's in the back of your head at all times at least mine anyway, you know, but it's not gonna stop me from going in the water." says Jamie Bouvier, the father of 6-year-old twin boys and uncle of two 8-year-girls who’s vacationing from Boston.

But the news has the Nieves family from Augusta staying at the water's edge.

"Keep them over here, playing on the dirt, yeah, keep them in the sand too." says Luana Nieves, the mother of 2-year-old and 9-year-old girls.

Staying planted on the beach doesn't have to be your sunny day solution.

"I think more people die of being hit on the head by a coconut every year than they die from shark attacks." says Cathy Sakas, a Biologist and Educator from Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.

"I would rather get hit in the head with a coconut, but you know, that's your odds, that's your statistics." responds Nieves

“The chances are very slim, but it's still in the back of your mind." adds Bouvier.

It may be on people's minds, but it's not keeping some from venturing into the surf.

When the seven year old girl was bitten by the shark on Wednesday afternoon, she was in water just two to three feet deep. Experts say she just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Most of the time when people are bitten by sharks, they are in an area of schooling fish that attracts sharks." says Sakas.

It's something the Bouvier's won't have to worry about because vacation is over after this day at the beach.

Shark attacks are rare. According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, since they've been recorded, there have only been nine in Georgia, none deadly. In South Carolina, the number stands at 52, three of which were fatal. The last deadly attack happened in the 1883. At 520 attacks, Florida has had the most attacks in the country. 13 of them have been deadly. The most recent deadly attack happened last year.

If you're worried, experts say there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Stay away from schools of fish so a shark can't confuse you with one of them. Don't wear shiny jewelry. When it reflects light it could look like a small shiny fish. Don't swim alone. Sharks are less likely to bite a person who’s in a group.

If a shark should come near you, what should you do?

"Face the shark and if the shark comes at you, push it's nose up. I know that sounds contrary to what most people would intuitively want to do, but that seems to be the best repellant for a shark is just to push it's nose up." says Sakas.

http://www.wsav.com/servlet/Satellite?p ... !frontpage
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Post by sharkbait »

Missouri girl bitten by shark off Hilton Head Island
Associated Press
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - A 7-year-old girl from Missouri was bitten by a shark while playing in 2 feet of water, Beaufort County deputies say.

The girl suffered puncture wounds to her foot and buttocks in the attack Wednesday afternoon, but the injuries were not life-threatening, deputies said.

Lifeguards and others on the beach first thought the girl had been stung by a stingray, but the doctor who treated her found a shark tooth embedded in her foot, authorities said.

The girl is the daughter of Amy B. Wallis of Ballwin, Mo., according to deputies, who did not have the child's name.

An average of three shark bites are reported on South Carolina beaches each year, said Charles Farmer, author of the book Sharks of South Carolina and a 38-year veteran of the Department of Natural Resources.

The last shark bite reported on Hilton Head Island was in 2001, according to the archives of The Island Packet newspaper.

The last fatal shark attack off the island occurred in 1883, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Sharks often get closer to shore as the ocean waters warm and the bait fish they eat get closer to the beach, said Al Stokes, manager of DNR's Waddell Mariculture Center.

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/ne ... 766242.htm
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