MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – After a man was bit in the foot in North Myrtle Beach Tuesday, we talked to shark experts who shared tips that can prevent shark bites.
One of the first things we need to be aware of: we are swimming with sharks.
"All the time…if you're in the ocean, you're swimming with sharks," Shannon Hughes said.
Shannon Hughes, an aquarist and marine biologist at the Ripley's Aquarium has been a part of the team since 1999. Through his time in Myrtle Beach, he can say these sharks aren't biting people on purpose.
"They are not trying to eat us, they are actually trying to do their own thing. Trying to hunt fish and eat fish," Hughes said.
So, what leads sharks to bite us? Hughes says, it's all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Mistaken identity, what's happening is that the sharks are coming in, they're feeding. Unfortunately sometimes we get in the way when we're having fun at the beach and they're coming in to feed on fish, and we're in the way, and they're snapping...unfortunately we get hit once in a while," he said.
If you want to reduce your chances of being bit Hughes strongly suggests to stay away from piers. Hughes says it's important to stay away from piers and shore fisherman because of the bait in the water.
Also, be mindful of what you're wearing.
"You don't want to wear a lot of shinny objects. Rings, jewelry of any kind, because that flash sometimes will set off an animal to strike because they are seeing something like a scale," Hughes said.
People also should be aware of which bathing suits they choose for themselves and children, Hughes added. "Bathing suits even...they made those bathing suits for a while… really shinny and reflective. Not a good idea," he said.
The good news is, if a shark does bite, the ones local to our shores, will most likely let go.
"They bite us and they usually go on their way," Hughes said, recommending you stay out of the water through dawn and dusk and if you see a school of fish pass by, you should get out of the water.