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North Carolina coast starts summer with 150 rip current rescues, alligator scare and shark bite report

SUNSET BEACH, N.C. (WNCN) — Just as the first week of summer gets underway, things have been busy at the North Carolina coast — with a reported shark bite, an alligator scare and more than 150 water rescues amid dangerous rip currents.

Summer began on Thursday and since then much of the coast has been under a red flag warning for a high risk of rip currents. There were 152 rip current rescues along New Hanover County and Carteret County beaches starting Wednesday and continuing through Saturday — with more than 80 at Carolina Beach, the National Weather Service said.

But the activity at the coast wasn’t limited to rip current water rescues. On Tuesday a man was sent to an area hospital after a “shark bite” at an island beach in Brunswick County, near the South Carolina border.

Photo by Sunset Beach Police

The incident, which was initially reported as a shark bite, happened just before 11:25 a.m. Tuesday in the surf at Sunset Beach.

A 20-year-old man was swimming on the eastern side of the island near 11th Street when he was bitten on the lower leg and was “immediately” taken by Brunswick County Emergency Medical Services to a hospital, according to Sunset Beach Police Department.

Police later said a cut on the man’s leg was caused by “some sort of sea life” but could not confirm it was a shark bite.

On Wednesday — nearly a half mile off the coast of Oak Island — crews had to rescue two youths on a paddle board who had drifted out to sea, officials said.

Oak Island Water Rescue and the U.S Coast Guard were involved in the rescue around 3:35 p.m. which involved getting the pair back to the Brunswick County island. East to West longshore currents and offshore winds forced the pair about 2,000 feet off the beach, according to the Oak Island Fire Department.

A drone flew out to the pair who were far off Barbee Boulevard. The youths communicated with the device using the camera and a speaker on the drone, the Oak Island Fire Department said.

On Thursday — also at Sunset Beach — an alligator lurking under a car frightened folks at a Mexican restaurant, police said.

The alligator was only 5 feet long but the animal’s head looked menacing sticking out under a car, according to the Sunset Beach Police Department.

Photo courtesy: Oak Island Fire Department

Wildlife crews and police were called Thursday afternoon to Las Palmeras Mexican Restaurant on Chandlers Lane, near the Food Lion in Sunset Beach.

“When the officers arrived, the alligator was tucked under the vehicle with his head peering out from the driver’s side door, blocking access to the vehicle,” police said.

Crews and police managed to get control of the gator “out of concern for the safety of the vehicle owner” and move it to a nearby pond, according to police.

“Never approach an alligator or allow children near them. Alligators can move very quickly over short distances,” Sunset Beach Police said.

Photo by Sunset Beach Police

As the weekend was underway, red flag and high rip current warnings continued along many North Carolina beaches on Saturday. There were 152 rip current rescues from Thursday through Saturday in New Hanover and Carteret counties, the National Weather Service reported.

The total water rescues for Wednesday and Thursday in New Hanover County was 20 at Kure Beach, 14 at Wrightsville Beach and 35 at Carolina Beach, the National Weather Service reported. Four total rip current rescues were reported at Atlantic Beach in Carteret County on Thursday and Saturday.

On Friday and Saturday, there were 38 water rescues at Carolina Beach, 21 at Kure Beach and 10 at Wrightsville Beach, the National Weather Service told CBS 17 Saturday.

Oak Island Water Rescue photo

Dangerous rip currents were reported Saturday from Cape Hatteras to Surf City. The National Weather Service also reported rip currents in Pender and New Hanover counties.

Saturday, the National Weather Service in Wilmington told CBS 17 that the forecast for dangerous rip currents in New Hanover County and Brunswick County was likely to diminish for the rest of the weekend.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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