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Official: Boy likely bitten by shark off N.C. island

The Marines conducted helicopter patrols searching for sharks after park officials believe a 9-year-old might have been bitten by one.

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BEAR ISLAND, N.C. — Marine helicopter patrols searched for sharks because state park officials believe a 9-year-old might have been bitten by one last Monday.

William Early, of Wilmington, was surfing in shallow water off Bear Island in the Hammocks Beach State Park around 4 p.m. on May 26, said Charlie Peek, a spokesman for the state Division of Parks and Recreation.

The boy had gotten off his surfboard when a large fish attacked him, Peek said.

William suffered lacerations to his upper and lower left arm. He underwent surgery at a Wilmington hospital to correct some nerve damage and has returned home to recover.

Peek said doctors said William's wounds were consistent with a shark bite. However, no one saw a shark at the scene.

A Marine helicopter flying over Bear Island a day later did not spot anything unusual. Peek said park officials hope the attack was an isolated incident.

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