Shark victims in water at feeding time, experts say

Estes Thompson


AVON, N.C. – Experts say the reason for a fatal shark attack off a North Carolina beach is simple, if no less tragic: the victims were in the water at feeding time.

“They were feeding, plain and simple,” David Griffin, director of the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, said Tuesday.

Sergei Zaloukaev, 28, of Oakton, Va., died of blood loss from multiple shark bites after Monday’s attack off the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. His girlfriend, Natalia Slobodskaya, 23, was in critical but stable condition in a hospital in Norfolk, Va. She lost her left foot and was severely wounded on her left buttocks, hip and left hand.

It was the second fatal shark attack of the year in the United States and the second of the Labor Day weekend. The first occurred 135 miles away on Saturday in Virginia Beach when 10-year-old David Peltier was fatally mauled.

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore created a task force today to determine if any environmental changes contributed to the attacks over Labor Day weekend.

David’s friends, family and young teammates gathered Tuesday at a football field in the Richmond, Va., suburb of Glen Allen to remember him and retire his No. 79 team jersey.

His Panthers teammates lit candles, prayed and released red, black and white balloons – the team colors – at the memorial, and dedicated their season to David, who was bitten while surfing with his father and two brothers. Panthers Coach Bobby Harris gave David’s mother, Carol Miles, a plaque, a helmet autographed by David’s teammates, and his No. 79 jersey.

“He was full of love,” Harris said. “You could hear him tell his mother he loved her 100 times a day, even out on the football field.”

The number of U.S. shark attacks has risen slightly during the past decade, according to the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville, Fla. Biologists attribute the increase to more people in the water.

Griffin said a bull or tiger shark was responsible for the North Carolina attack. A bull shark also tore the arm off an 8-year-old boy off Florida’s Gulf Coast in July. Jessie Arbogast’s arm was reattached after a daring rescue by his uncle. The Mississippi boy remains in a light coma.

A North Carolina biologist said more than one shark might have attacked.

“When the water’s murky, people are out there swimming, there’s bait fish in the water and sharks are feeding, they’re going to mouth you to see what you are,” said Louis Daniel, assistant to the director of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. “That’s just going to happen.”

The intensity of the attack indicates the shark was feeding, said George Burgess, director of the Shark Attack File.

“Once it grabbed, it maintained contact and continued in an aggressive way,” Burgess said. “That would suggest to me that the animal realized what it was doing and was going after what it viewed as an appropriate food item.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

People walk along the waterfront in front of South Fork Bakery at the Port of Everett on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett inks deal with longtime Bothell restaurant

The port will break ground on two new buildings this summer. Slated for completion next year, Alexa’s Cafe will open in one of them.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.