MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - Beach-goers visiting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, over the weekend were oblivious to the fact that sharks were lurking in the water near them, sometimes mere feet away from those swimming and wading in the water.
The moment was captured by Ginger Gilmer, who was vacationing in a resort that looked down onto North Myrtle Beach. She was able to snap pictures of the sharks from her 15th-floor hotel room and posted them to Facebook, saying, "Why I go to the beach to get in the pool! SHARKS!!!!"
Thousands of sharks swim along the South Carolina coast each summer, according to Myrtle Beach Online. Some of them are effectively harmless while others have a reputation for being dangerous.
Spinner sharks, lemon sharks and hammerheads are commonly found off the South Carolina coast in the summer and are considered harmless, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Blacktip sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks also lurk in these waters, though, and they all have a much scarier track records of attacking humans unprovoked. Blacktips are responsible for a recorded 28 unprovoked attacks on humans, Bull sharks have been linked to 100 unprovoked attacks, 27 of which were fatal, and tiger sharks are responsible for 111 unprovoked attacks, 31 of which were fatal.
Shark attacks are still rare, but the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach, has a few suggestions to bear in mind on the off-chance it happens to you. They recommend hitting an attacking shark in the eye or in the nose, or sticking your hand in its gills, as all those areas contain sensitive tissue and usually cause the shark to release.
Chris Lowe, Director of CSULB Shark Lab, says that if a shark is approaching you, it's far more likely to be checking you out than looking for a snack, and he stresses the importance of remembering that the ocean is home to these creatures and that they deserve to be safe at the beach too
"They [sharks] are very important animals in our marine eco-system," Lowe says, "We need those sharks in our coastal oceans, and we also need to learn to share the ocean with these animals."