Two teenagers were mauled in separate shark attacks on the same stretch of North Carolina beach Sunday, both suffering life-threatening injuries, local officials said.
A 13-year-old girl lost a part of her arm when she was bitten by a shark in an attack that occurred around 4:40 p.m. in Oak Island, a town about 30 miles south of Wilmington, according to Brunswick County officials.
The girl lost part of her left arm and may lose her left leg, Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said in a Facebook post.
Just over an hour later, EMS received a call that a 16-year-old boy was attacked on beach roughly two miles from where the girl was attacked, and Wallace said he may have lost his arm.
Both of the teens were airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, and both were out of surgery in stable condition late this evening, officials said.
Teams were out looking for any sharks that might have been involved in the attacks, the mayor said.
"They have a helicopter and they're flying the helicopter up along the beach to see if they spot anything," Wallace said.
Town manager Tim Holloman said that in 16 years he has never seen anything like what happened today.
"Oak Island is still a safe place," he said. "We're monitoring the situation. This is highly unusual."
He said the beaches would be open on Monday, but visitors would be encouraged not to go in the water.
"The Brunswick County Sheriff's department will have Marine One and their helicopter support to monitor the coastline for any activities tomorrow," he said.
Given that these bites have led to such serious injuries, experts say, it is highly likely that these are bigger sharks -- tiger or bull sharks -- whose teeth and bites are designed to rip and tear.
"This is the real deal threat," said George Burgess of the University of Florida, who has been studying sharks for 40 years and publishes the International Shark Attack File. "This is highly unusual -- I have seen this twice in 40 years. Once in Egypt and once in the Florida Panhandle."
These incidents occurred just 30 miles up the coast from Ocean Isle Beach, where a 13-year-old girl was bitten by a shark on Thursday. The teen suffered lacerations on her foot, but was not severely injured.