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4 swimmers bitten by shark in Myrtle Beach

Posted at 6:48 AM, Jun 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-15 10:35:46-04

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WTVR) – Swimmers will be a little more cautious as they head out to South Carolina beaches. Four different people said they were bitten by a shark Thursday.

Beachgoers in Myrtle Beach were confined to the sand for about two hours, after reports of bites started coming in. 

One was at 72nd Avenue North and the other was at 82nd Avenue North, said Capt. David Knipes with Myrtle Beach police, however police did not confirm if a shark was to blame for the bites.

The lifeguard on duty was more certain even though he didn’t see anything in the ocean.

Earlier this month, a 25-year-old man was bit in the foot, about 7:45 p.m., while swimming near the 2nd Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach, police said. [GRAPHIC: Photo of shark bite]

“Nobody saw them,” said lifeguard Denny Starr. “Even the guys that got bit didn’t see it. They’re definitely shark bites. One guy’s foot was opened up. The other had a full mouth print around his leg.”

Starr was on duty around 1:20 p.m. when the bites were reported and didn’t see the other injuries. Three people were taken by EMS to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and the fourth drove himself.

Experts in marine science say it’s not likely the same animal bit all four people and without seeing the pictures of the bite marks it’s hard to say what kind of shark it may have been, but experts believe black tip sharks are the most probable culprit. 

While four bites in one area are unusual according to officials, the weather all week could have contributed to the high number of bites. 

The beaches covering the northern end of the city remained closed for about two hours while city police pieced together details. Cpl. Mike Guthinger said the closure of the waters was to keep everyone safe, but not necessarily from sharks.

“I’ve got all my beach patrol tied up and the lifeguards are tied up,” he said. “We don’t want to need to do any rescues while we’re all tied up.”

Experts said the bite earlier this month made sense, as it happened during feeding time while swimming near a pier.

WARNING, GRAPHIC CONTENT. Click here to view the actual photo of the shark bite taken by the victim’s friend, Mike Phillips.