Are There Sharks in the Outer Banks?

While there’s always lots of positive news about the  Outer Banks in North Carolina, sharks have also been a hot topic. Imagine you’re thinking of your dream vacation with your family, just enjoying the lovely weather and the beautiful scenery, but then you hear about sharks.

With various reports on the beaches of North Carolina, it has been confirmed that there are sharks in the Outer Banks. This is a scary thought to some, but the truth is that shark attacks in most parts of North Carolina are actually very rare. If you want to be completely safe while visiting the Outer Banks, just avoid swimming around dusk and dawn.

Here’s something that will put your mind at ease: on any map showing the most dangerous beaches for shark attacks, the Outer Banks are nowhere to be seen.  So you can feel safe while you’re swimming at any beach in the Outer Banks. We’ll be sharing  some information about sharks and the Outer Banks here, so we can answer questions like “Are there sharks in the Outer Banks?”

How Common are Shark Attacks in the Outer Banks?

With exactly 10 cases of shark attacks since 1935, it’s justified to say that shark attacks on the Outer Banks are rare. Of course, the most likely time for such attacks to happen is during dawn and dusk. This is when sharks are the most active.

If you choose to stay out of the water during these times, you should be completely safe. There is really no need to stress when it comes to sharks in the Outer Banks because sharks themselves are so rarely seen there. 

Can You Swim in the Ocean at the Outer Banks?

Man swimming in the amazingly turquoise ocean

The Outer Banks is one of the most popular beaches in the US. With its gorgeous beaches and amazing scenery, it’s no wonder that people flock to the beaches in North Carolina. They say that this is where you can find the best surfing and it’s definitely a popular spot for those who love saltwater fishing.

Even with the reported shark attacks, it’s safe to swim in the ocean at the Outer Banks. Usually, shark attacks are not intentional attacks, but if you are still worried, shark attacks usually occur near shores, between sandbars, and within the mouths of inlets and creeks. Avoid swimming in these areas, and you’ll know you’re perfectly safe.

There’s really no need to worry about shark attacks while visiting the Outer Banks because, quite simply, they’re extremely rare.

What Attracts Sharks the Most?

If you are still worried about sharks in the Outer Banks, you may be asking what attracts them? Is it blood? Is it an illness?

Sharks are attracted to the scent of blood and the scent of injured fish. That’s why it is recommended to never bring raw or bloody bait with you when you go fishing. However, you don’t have to worry about anything while you are swimming. 

Aside from blood, here are some things that can attract sharks:

  • Sound – other than sight and smell, sharks can easily detect if there’s a movement or sound in the water. This is because they have sensors on their skin that can detect vibrations. There are certain irregular sounds that can attract sharks, such as a fish struggling or a boat motor.
  • Different Colors – sharks have an amazing ability to see colors, including ultraviolet light. They can distinguish light from dark, and dark from light. Some colors that can attract sharks are the color white, yellow, and silver. These colors resemble the color of fish scales.
  • Fish – sharks are known to be hunters and they will eat anything in their path. Because of this, if there is a school of fish, they might be attracted to that area. Of course, sharks feed on their prey, mostly fishes smaller than them, so this will be an immediate danger if you see a shark.

Are There Great White Sharks in Outer Banks?

On June 24, 2021, an article in the Virginian Pilot featured an 11-foot white shark near the coast of the Outer Banks. This is rare because white sharks are usually deepwater creatures. According to the article, this shark was named Bluenose and was spotted to come from Cape Hatteras.

Even with this report, the shark did not cause harm to anyone and it did not cause fear to the people living in the Outer Banks. That’s because great white sharks are known to stay in deep water, so it’s not common to be seen near beaches.

Besides, great white sharks are difficult to spot because they are usually looking for prey at the surface of the water. They are looking for sea lions, seals, smaller sharks, dolphins, turtles, and seabirds – all of which are on the surface of the water.

There is no need to worry about sharks when you plan your next vacation in the Outer Banks. There are just a few shark species that are found in this area. Aside from these sharks, there are no other types of sharks living near the beaches of the Outer Banks. There are also no reports of shark attack fatalities that can be linked to great white sharks.

What Can You Do to Swim Safely in the Outer Banks?

There’s no denying that hearing news about sharks can be scary for some people. That’s why it is important to know what you can do to relax and still be safe in the water.

The best thing to do is to enjoy the water in a safe manner. If you are not swimming, the best thing would be to stay in shallow waters close to the shore. 

Here are some tips to consider:

Swim with Lifeguards Near You

To be extra sure, it’s best to swim on patrolled beaches. Lifeguards are there for your safety, so make sure to look for them before you go swimming.

Also, make sure to pay attention when they are giving instructions. This way, you’ll know how to stay safe in the water.

Swim in Groups

Sharks usually attack lone individuals. Like other creatures, sharks are more likely to attack when they feel that their prey is vulnerable. So you can stay safe if you are with other people in the water.

You can also look for friends who want to go swimming and organize your own group. This way, you’ll have the chance to swim together with people you trust.

Don’t Swim at Dusk and Dawn

Sharks are basically hunters who use darkness to look for food and prey. Because of this, it’s best to avoid swimming at dusk and dawn.

These are the times when sharks are more active. So it’s best to avoid swimming during these times and swim in the daytime when sharks are usually less active.


Sharks have always been a concern for people who are planning to go swimming or engage in water activities. While the Outer Banks have only a few recorded cases of shark attacks, it’s best to still follow these simple tips to stay safe while you’re enjoying the beach.

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