'Masses' Of Sharks Near Shore On Carolina Coast

Oct 14, 2014

A series of videos and photos show masses of sharks on the North Carolina shoreline. Two videos posted online this week show what appear to be blacktip and/or spinner sharks in a feeding frenzy near Cape Lookout.

Blacktip sharks feed on the coast near Cape Lookout.
Credit Shark Attack News

The sharks are further ashore than usual, feeding in just a few inches of water.

Nancy Fish, with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, said it's a migratory season for fish, which can lead to shark activity closer to shore.

"October especially is our biggest fishing month," said Fish. "The fish are moving. They're migrating. There's lots of bait out in the water for prey species like the sharks."

Fish added that it's not uncommon to have a increased activity by the species at this time of year.

This recent video is fascinating:

Experts believe the sharks to be either Common Blacktip Sharks and/or Spinner Sharks.

A Common Blacktip Shark, Carcharhinus limbatus. The shark is identified by the black smudges on most of its fins.
Credit CSIRO National Fish Collection

"Blacktip sharks are a temperate water species," said Mike Remige, Director of Janette's Pier.  "Although they come up our coast in the summer time, they're returning back to the warmer waters further south. And this is the time when other big schools of fish are moving back through the area. So, it really is prime fishing season and therefore prime feeding season for species like this."

The Spinner Shark looks very similar to the Blacktip Shark. The key difference is the number of fins that have a black tip.

Spinner shark
Credit Kevin McGee / Flickr/Creative Commons

A separate event last month saw dozens of dead sharks wash ashore near Oak Island. State officials believe that could have been the result of by-catch, or poor fishing practices. Experts say there's no increased risk to beach goers -- though shark activity is usually highest near dusk and dawn when the animals are feeding.