A 68-year-old man has been badly injured by a shark in North Carolina in the seventh attack off the US state’s coast in less than three weeks.
Local officials said the man was swimming in waist-deep water with his adult son on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks.
He suffered wounds to his ribcage, lower leg, hip and both hands after trying to fight off the animal.
Experts say the number of shark attacks in the US this year is above average.
Local police said the man was pulled under water by a shark measuring about 7ft (2.1m) in length just after midday on Wednesday.
“The individual was actually located right in front of the lifeguard tower when it occurred,” Justin Gibbs, the director of emergency services in Hyde County, told reporters.
The man was pulled from the water shortly afterward and flown to a nearby hospital for treatment. No other swimmers were injured.
Shark attacks in the US
- 52 of the 72 attacks around the world in 2014 were in the US
- three fatal attacks in 2014 but none in US
- in US, most attacks occur in Florida (54%)
- but also happen in Hawaii, South and North Carolina, California, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas
- surfers involved in 65% of 2014 attacks globally
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), a program run by marine biologists at the Florida Museum of Natural History, there have been 23 attacks in 2015, of which one in Hawaii was fatal.
ISAF says there are usually about 30-40 shark attacks recorded in the US each year, with most of them not being deadly.
Two weeks ago, two teenagers were badly injured after separate shark attacks on North Carolina’s south coast.
The 14-year-old girl was mauled while swimming off Oak Island, while a 16-year-old boy was attacked on the same stretch of beach less than two hours later. They were transported to a hospital in Wilmington but both lost parts of their arms.
Experts have suggested a number of possible reasons for the reported increase in incidents, including rising water temperatures and more people choosing to swim in the sea.
Some have also pointed to fishermen attracting sharks either with bait for smaller fish or for the sharks themselves.