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CCU’s shark man in ‘jaws’ of media frenzy

Google the words “Dan Abel shark attack,” and you will get a good idea of how CCU’s resident shark biologist spent his summer.

Abel did a total of 27 media interviews, many for major national broadcast and print organizations, in the wake of the shark attacks on the North Carolina coast in June and July. His appearances (on air and online) on the CBS Evening News, CNN, NBC News, the Weather Channel (“Wake Up with Al”) and in the pages of USA Today, the Charlotte Observer and other news outlets raised Abel’s profile as an expert in his field and spread the CCU name to new audiences.

Abel’s voice of reason, scholarship and experience provided a welcome counterbalance in the media frenzy that attended the attacks in North Carolina, where two teenage swimmers were maimed by sharks on the same day in Oak Island. A total of eight shark attacks occurred on North Carolina beaches within a three-week period in June and July.

The reason that Abel was so hotly pursued by the country’s top media on this story is a fortunate accident of timing. The National Geographic Channel had produced a documentary, United Sharks of America, featuring Abel prominently in interviews. Nat Geo sent out a news release promoting the show just before the sharks began to bite in North Carolina, which prompted the CBS Evening News to call Abel to comment on the attacks. This appearance led other news organizations to seek him out, and soon enough he was in demand all over.