HAVELOCK, Craven County (WCTI) — A man was injured when he was bitten by something in the Neuse River on Wednesday and while social media speculation is that it was a shark attack, officials have not confirmed that the injuries were caused by a shark bite.
Travis Fulcher, Ferry Master for the NC DOT at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal in Havelock, said he was on duty the night that it happened.
"We got a call that a man and his two children were out enjoying the water -- wakeboarding," Fulcher explained. "The boy felt something brush up against him -- rough -- then the man was attacked on his left calf by what probably was a bull shark."
Craven County EMS officials confirmed that they received a call about someone being bitten by something in the water and that they directed the caller to get in touch with Havelock EMS – which was closer to the location of the incident.
They also directed the caller to head to the Cherry Branch Ferry Docks.
"They came into the ferry basin," said Fulcher, referring to the man and his two children. "There was a considerable amount of blood in the boat."
Fulcher said the family applied a tourniquet to the man's leg while he was still on the boat and added that the man's young children were quick on their feet.
"His daughter was around maybe 13 or so," Fulcher added. "She did a great job calling EMS; she stayed calm during what is really a stressful situation."
Havelock EMS officials said they got that call at about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, stating that someone had been bitten by something in the water but they cannot confirm that it was a shark. They say that the man was taken to CarolinaEast Medical Center for treatment but do not have information about his current condition.
Fulcher said the man appeared relatively ok when he left.
"He was conscious and talking," he said. "he was actually able to get up on the ramp on his own."
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said they did not get any reports about a bite in the river and cannot confirm that it was a shark, but it is possible.
Dr. Joel Fodrie, UNC Associate Professor at the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, said it is very possible the animal was a shark.
"Without having seen the injury, I would say a bull shark makes sense," he explained. "It is one of the species that tends to travel farther up rivers, into freshwaters, and they can be aggressive."
He also adds shark bites are rare, particularly in rivers, like the Neuse, but said they do happen from time to time.
"It's kind of like being struck by lightning," Fodrie said. "Sometimes in a rare combination of factors -- clarity of water, noise -- line up in a way a shark thinks he can safely eat food."
Fodrie said people can try to determine how much shark activity is in the water by taking a spoon, dipping it in the water, and tasting it. According to Fordie, the saltier the water, the more likelihood of sharks.
He also advises staying out of the water during feeding times -- at dusk and at dawn -- and whenever there are dolphins present, as sharks and dolphins often feed on the same wildlife.
Fulcher said it is a good reminder to anyone heading out on the water.
"Just be conscious of what’s around you," Fulcher advised.