The Discovery Communications Building in Silver Spring, Maryland decorated for Shark Week in August 2012.
Farragutful / Wikipedia

The Discovery Channel's Shark Week marathon starts this week. But UNC Communications researchers say the footage showing sharks acting like vicious predators can be misleading.

Suzannah Evans and Jessica Gall Myrick co-authored a study of people's responses to Shark Week footage. Evans, a doctoral candidate, says they found that viewers assumed they were more likely to be attacked by a shark than they really are.

An image of a beach access sign
DearEdward / Wikimedia Commons

You're driving down Highway 58 on Emerald Isle near Atlantic Beach. The air conditioner in your car just broke, you can only pick up one AM radio station, and the kids in the backseat are halfway through “99 Bottles of Root Beer on the Wall.”

You need to find a beach and quick.

A screenshot captured Saturday at Mirlo Beach near Rodanthe shows the surf advancing on Highway 12.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $20.3 million contract for beach re-nourishment just north of Rodanthe. The contract is going to the same Illinois dredging company that re-nourished the beach in Nags Head just before Hurricane Irene hit the area in 2011, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, of Illinois.

Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier, August 4, 2013
Alistair Nicol / Flickr/Creative Commons

Cape Hatteras has been ranked as the sixth best beach in the nation by a leading beach expert, Dr. Stephen Leatherman ("Dr. Beach") of Florida International University.

Here's the list:

'Sunny Side Up' A picture of  a lifeguard chair
Creative Commons

The National Parks Service is trying to keep at least a few lifeguards on the Cape Hatteras Seashore this summer.

Federal officials cut the $200,000 program that staffed three beaches seven days a week during the summer.

Now, Outer Banks Group Superintendent Barclay Trimble said he wants lifeguard service contractors to offer bids that can accommodate a tighter budget.

Coastal Urge

On the very first "Cold Stroke Classic" in Wrightsville Beach, NC, it was cold. Very cold. It was January after all.

One of the participants remembers it this way: "Two people actually wore survival suits. Most wore wetsuits with jackets over them. It was around freezing, but still, some people acted like this was some kind of nutty Polar Bear Club dare."

Turns out, no matter the outside temperature, it's actually not so cold when you stand on a board in the ocean and work your muscles as hard as you can, paddle-racing seven miles around an island. Who knew?

Break the Grip of the Rip sign
James Albright via Flickr, Creative Commons

Dangerous rip currents off the Carolina coast are to blame for the deaths of seven people over the 4th of July holiday. That number is double the average number of rip current deaths in a year. Community leaders are calling the tragedies a wake-up call and are trying to find ways to prevent future drownings.

Putting signs and red flags up at various beach access points is one of several ideas, says Anthony Marzano, the director of emergency services in Brunswick County, where four of the deaths took place. 

Take Me to the Beach helps people find the right beach in the Outer Banks.
Inductice Ideas LTD

Have you ever visited the North Carolina coast only to have a hard time finding the right public beach access? That’s the situation that Sara Brubaker found herself in when she moved to the Outer Banks three years ago. So Brubaker got in touch with the app development company Inductive Ideas LTD to find a solution to the problem.  The result is a new smartphone app called Take Me to the Beach, a guide to Outer Banks beaches that provides information about public access, beach amenities, lifeguards, and distances from beaches to food and drink.

A beach near Wilmington, NC.
libby via flickr, Creative Commons

Environmental advocates say North Carolina's beaches fared well in their latest water quality study.  The Natural Resources Defense Council's 2012 "Testing The Waters" report examined many of the nation's beaches for levels of pollution. 

NRDC researchers found that two percent of samples from North Carolina beaches registered higher than the state's maximum bacterial limit.  Jon Devine, a senior attorney with the NRDC, says states like North Carolina are taking steps to stop bacterial contamination.

 A beach swimmer on the Carolina coast. Officials warn of strong rip tide currents.
Billy Hathorn, Creative Commons

Safety officials on the coast are trying to make beachgoers more aware of rip currents. Those are the narrow channels of waves that can pull swimmers dangerously far offshore. Signs along North Carolina’s coastline advise visitors to ‘Break the Grip of the Rip.’

Spencer Rogers is with the governmental research organization North Carolina Sea Grant. He estimates that rip currents account for 80 percent of drowning and says the currents happen almost every day on North Carolina beaches, but are not always dangerous.