Shark attack injures man off Sullivan’s Island

A 30-year-old man was bitten by a shark off Sullivan’s Island today. Authorities believe it was a sand shark, similar to the one pictured here, that was responsible for the attack.

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — A 30-year-old man was bitten by a 6-foot-long shark and suffered injuries to his foot during a Friday afternoon swim.

The victim, whose name was not immediately available, was otherwise in good condition, according to a statement from the Sullivan’s Island Fire and Rescue.

Around 2:15 p.m., the town’s personnel responded to the incident on the beach at Station 18½, and an ambulance took the man to a Mount Pleasant hospital for stitches.

Witnesses said the fish was about 6 feet in length and resembled a sand shark, the statement said. It swam away after the incident.

Last year, a report by researchers Raid Amin, Erich Ritter and Ashleigh Wetzel found that both Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach were the riskiest places for shark attacks in the continental United States. They concluded that the chances of getting bitten there is about 35 times higher than anywhere else along the Carolina coast.

The study looked at how far apart geographically the bites occurred and estimated how many people use the water for recreation at those spots year round.

The town’s statement reminded both visitors and residents that there are sharks in the Atlantic.

“As such, visitors should use caution when swimming in the ocean or engaging in water sports,” it said.

Most shark encounters are usually cases of mistaken prey and involve a surfer or a person thrashing in roiling water. A shark may nip the victim to determine if the disturbance is a potential meal and will quickly let go. Serious wounds are rare, and South Carolina hasn’t had a fatal attack since the 1850s.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.