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Oak Island Mayor Advises Caution After Shark Attacks

A view from Ocean Crest Pier, Oak Island.
Donald Lee Pardue
A view from Ocean Crest Pier, Oak Island.

The Brunswick County Sheriff's Office is monitoring the water off Oak Island beaches. They're on the lookout for sharks. Two teenagers were mauled Sunday afternoon, just 80 minutes and two miles apart.Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace is urging beach goers to learn more about shark safety and to play it safe at the ocean.

"Please don't go above, like, knee or hip-deep. Even hip-deep, the sharks can be swimming in that area. And stay amongst a group of people. Don't go out and be just one person alone out there."

Wallace said she probably should be worried about how the attacks will affect the town's economy. But she remembers the movie Jaws, in which the mayor of Amity tries to cover up the shark attacks.

"I'm not that mayor," Wallace said.

"I want everyone to know about these shark attacks. I want them all to know that it happened at the pier, and that the other one happened going toward the other pier that we have."

She said fishermen often throw chum in the water to attract game fish, but it also draws sharks to those areas. 

Wallace adds that Portuguese men-o'-war and barracudas have been seen in the area. She says staying in shallow water should make it easier to quickly escape any lurking predators.


Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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