A man has been airlifted to hospital in North Carolina after being bitten by a shark in shallow waters – the seventh person attacked along the state’s coast in three weeks.
Emergency responders said the 68-year-old was pulled underwater as he tried to fight off the 7ft shark, and suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and both hands.
Eyewitnesses said the victim was in waist-deep water, barely 30ft away from the shore, and was right in front of the lifeguard’s tower when he was bitten several times.
Shark attacks in the Carolinas are at their highest level in 15 years – and experts believe the surge is because more Americans are choosing to swim in the sea.
Sea turtles and small bait fish may also be responsible as they have been coming closer to shore this summer, with predatory sharks following behind.
Nobody else was injured in Wednesday’s attack, which unfolded at a beach on Ocracoke Island in the midday sun.
The victim was given emergency treatment for about 20 minutes at the scene before he was flown to a local hospital in a helicopter.
Just a couple of hours later, swimmers were back in the ocean – and “nobody seemed to be that scared”, according to one holidaymaker.
Last month, a 16-year-old boy described losing his left arm during an earlier attack in North Carolina – but he has vowed to “live a normal life with the cards I’ve been dealt”.
Meanwhile, in Australia, a body-boarder is in a critical condition following a shark attack on the east coast, which left him with “significant injuries to his lower legs”.
The 32-year-old was mauled in the same area where a Japanese surfer, Tadashi Nakahara, died after losing his legs to a shark in February.
Fatalities remain rare in the region, but beaches have been closed for at least 24 hours.