South Carolina Shark Attacks: Where the Last 9 Bites Happened

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: August 23, 2022
© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com
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South Carolina is not typically known for its shark attacks and has not had many attacks since 2017, when 10 were recorded along its coastlines. According to South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, the state has about 2,876 miles (4,628.47 kilometers) of tidal shoreline, 165 linear miles of beaches, and 40 Barrier and Sea Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

These networks support a diverse ecosystem that includes sharks. Being a tourist hotspot, humans sometimes encounter these seawater predators along the coastlines of the southeastern state. Let’s find out where the last 9 shark bites in South Carolina happened.     

How Many Shark Attacks Occurred in South Carolina in 2021?

Tiger Shark
There were four reported shark attacks in South Carolina throughout 2021.

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The State of South Carolina had the third highest number of shark attacks in the United States in 2021. According to the ISAF’s yearly worldwide shark attack summary, there were 4 recorded shark attacks in the coastal state, accounting for almost 10 percent of the total number of unprovoked attacks in the country last year.

How Many Shark Attacks Have Occurred in South Carolina This Year?

Great White Shark stalks diver
There have been five reported shark attacks so far in South Carolina in 2022.

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South Carolina has had 5 shark attacks between January and August of 2022, trumping the figures from 2021. These numbers, however, follow the trend of increased shark attacks in many states such as New York. According to the Washington Post, The City That Never Sleeps only had about 12 unprovoked shark attacks before 2022, but has recorded a whopping 5 this year already, totaling 17.

Chief Scientist Robert Hueter of OCEARCH told CNN that the increased shark attacks are a result of reintroduced baitfish into the ocean. When these fish species swim in schools toward the coast, sharks follow after them which brings them into closer contact with humans.

Why Do Most Shark Attacks Occur?

What do tiger sharks eat - feeding a tiger shark
Most shark attacks occur because there are more people in shark habitats, the ocean.

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Researchers believe most shark attacks occur due to the reduced visibility beneath the water surface. This assumption is further bolstered by the fact that most shark attacks have been bites or rough hits and not humans devoured like horror-movie-sharks do. While sharks are known to feed on a wide variety of prey, humans are not one of them. Sharks are capable of hearing low-frequency sounds and would swim toward a solitary swimmer splashing about in the water.

Millions of people head over to the many coastlines of the United States in the summertime, swimming, surfing, waterboarding, etc. The deeper people go into the water, the more likely they will encounter a shark, as they are a common sight off the country’s coast. Another reason a shark might attack a human is if it feels threatened. The more people are in the ocean; the likelier it is that sharks would swim closer to the shore.

What Kind of Sharks Live Around South Carolina?

South Carolina waters are home to more than 12 shark species, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The shores of this coastal state are home to three of the world’s most aggressive shark species: the great white shark, the most aggressive of the marine species, the tiger shark, and the bull shark.

The other nine commonly sighted shark species in South Carolina are the spinner shark, bonnethead shark, lemon shark, finetooth shark, blacktip shark, hammerhead shark, scalloped hammerhead shark, sand tiger shark, and blacknose shark. According to reports from SCDNR, tiger sharks are the most frequent in South Carolina.

How Often Do People Get Bitten By Sharks in South Carolina?

South Carolina has had an average of 3 shark attacks in the last five years, with 2017 being its highest number in recent years. However, the odds of a fatal shark attack have remained less than 1-in-4 million, according to ISAF reports. Sharks are saltwater fishes and thus, are less likely to be encountered closer to shores.

Based on the ISAF account, South Carolina has only had 111 recorded unprovoked shark attacks between 1837 and 2021, ranking its beaches safer than those in Florida, Hawaii, and California. Most of these attacks along the state’s coast occurred in the Horry, Charleston, and Beaufort counties. Folly Beach in Charleston and Myrtle Beach in Horry County are considered two of the most shark-infested beaches worldwide for their frequent sightings. 

Where the Shark Bites Happened Last Year in South Carolina

Though South Carolina had the third highest number of shark attacks in the United States in 2021, none was fatal. Three of the four shark attacks were reported to have occurred in Beaufort County.   

Burkes Beach, Hilton Head in Beaufort County

Two shark attacks in 2021 happened close to Burkes beach on Hilton Head Island. A 26-year-old swimmer, Wyatt Bowman, was bitten about 150 feet (45.72 meters) from the beach. A lifeguard was also reported to have been bitten in the same county that year.

Barrington, Beach, Hilton Head in Beaufort County

On the 3rd of August, 2021, a lifeguard was bitten in the torso by a shark while checking the current off the Palmetto Dune Resort on Barrington Beach. According to news reports, the man suffered deep lacerations to his chest but survived the injuries.

Where the Shark Bites of 2022 Happened in South Carolina

According to U.S. Sun News, South Carolina ranks as one of the shark attack hotspots in 2022. Over the year, there have been numerous shark sightings along the state’s coast, one of its most notable being a great white shark off Myrtle Beach in August. According to the OCEARCH shark tracker, the shark called ‘Brexton’ measured over 13 feet (3.96 meters) long and weighed over 1,500 pounds (680.39 kilograms)

Kiawah Island in Charleston County

On the 24th of May, 2022, South Carolina recorded its first shark attack. A 30-year-old woman from New Jersey got attacked by a shark off the shores of Kiawah Island. She encountered the shark about 40 feet (12.19 meters) from the shore, with the large fish biting her calf before swimming quickly away.

Myrtle Beach in Horry County

Three of the year’s five attacks have been on Myrtle Beach. According to Myrtle Beach South Carolina News, a teenager was bitten by a shark off the U.S. beach on the 21st of June, on a private family campground in the ‘Grand Strand.’ In August, two other non-fatal shark attacks were also reported around Myrtle Beach.

Hilton Head in Beaufort County

On July 12, a 67-year-old woman was bitten by a shark off Hilton Head Island. She was reported to have headed into a thigh-deep murky part of the water where her left hand got bitten by an unidentified shark.

Up Next…

7 Islands with the Most Shark Attacks

Hawaii Shark Infested Waters: Where All 8 Bites Happened Last Year

New Jersey Beaches with the Most Shark Attacks


The Featured Image

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, showing its teeth.
Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, showing its teeth.
© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

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