At least 11 people have been seriously injured in shark attacks in the past month off North and South Carolina beaches, sparking fear in the community and speculation over their causes.

After two attacks back to back that left both victims with severed limbs, officials in Oak Island, North Carolina requested the state bans shark fishing off along beaches. Some had speculated that the shark who attacked two teenagers had been drawn to the beach because of chumming by fishermen off the nearby pier.  

A marine biologist interviewed on NPR over the weekend suspects the causes could be more complicated, having to do with ocean conditions, global warming and the nesting season for sea turtles as possible reasons.

George Burgess of the International Shark Attacks Files said the population of sharks is at an all-time low. But with more people on earth than ever before there are more people in the water, which brings an increase of shark attacks. However, that still doesn’t explain why there would be such a spate of attacks all of a sudden in an area that typically has just one or two shark attacks per year.

“There’s some other stuff going on here that we don’t know about — we’ll call it an X factor. Probably, oceanographic factors are involved,” Burgess explained.

An early summer has brought warm temperatures to the shoreline which brought throngs of beachgoers as well as mature sharks to the area. Most attacks are quick bite and grabs, but when fully grown sharks are involved – as seems to be the case in recent attacks – the injuries can be very serious.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons