Shark Filmed Lurking Mere Feet Away From North Carolina Surfer

A video has emerged showing a shark getting eerily close to a surfer in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The shark—which appears to be feeding—was caught on camera by Logan Marshall, a 19-year-old filmmaker from the Outer Banks.

According to The News & Observer, the incident took place north of Rodanthe, North Carolina, on January 13, 2020; the same day another surfer was bitten in what was a possible shark attack. As Newsweek reported at the time, an unnamed 26-year-old surfer from Manteo sustained non-fatal injuries near Sudie Payne Road, also in Rodanthe.

"It was two days of pretty sharky waters," Marshall told The News & Observer. "I've never seen it that populated with sea life."

The shark that approached the surfer in Marshall's video appears to have been a hammerhead, which are a relatively common sight in Carolina waters.

"A lot of people were saying it was an eight-to-ten foot hammerhead," Marshall told reporters, adding: "They're always around and you shouldn't be too scared of them, they're really cool creatures."

According to North Carolina Sea Grant, scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) are one of the most common species of shark found off the Carolina coast. Three other species—the smooth, the great and the Carolina hammerhead—can "occasionally" be found nearby but are less frequent.

Unlike other species of hammerheads, Sphyrna lewini have a distinctive scallop-like hammer. The IUCN Red List classifies them as an endangered species that have been particularly susceptible to over-fishing. The North Carolina Sea Grant says numbers in the North Atlantic have plummeted, with 75 to 90 percent of its population there wiped out.

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in Galapagos Island
File photo. A video captured a surfer riding waves near a feeding shark, which is believed to be a scalloped hammerhead like the one pictured. Janos/iStock

Hammerheads do not have the reputation of predators like the white shark of Jaws fame and attacks on humans are rare. However, according to the Florida Museum International Shark Attack File, there have been 15 reported instances of a hammerhead shark (of any species) attacking a human with no apparent provocation. None were fatal.

Statistics show that you are far more likely to die from a sand hole collapsing on the beach than from a shark bite—with a reported 16 fatalities caused by a sand hole collapse between 1990 and 2006, compared to 11 fatalities caused by sharks. These statistics are based on the U.S. only.

According to the Florida Museum, the number of shark attacks reported in 2019 was roughly 22 percent below the five-year average and marked the second year in a row that incidents declined. Scientists suspect this trend is at least partially driven by changes in migration patterns, specifically those related to blacktip sharks, which are most commonly responsible for shark-on-human attacks in Florida.

"We've had back-to-back years with unusual decreases in shark attacks, and we know that people aren't spending less time in the water," Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History's shark research program told the museum. "This suggests sharks aren't frequenting the same places they have in the past. But it's too early to say this is the new normal."