This is the third attack in the Outer Banks in the past week – and the seventh in North Carolina this season

By Caitlin Keating
Updated July 01, 2015 04:30 PM
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Credit: DJ Harrison

On Wednesday, a 67-year-old man was attacked by a shark in North Carolina, marking the seventh shark attack in recent weeks.

The man was swimming about 25 feet from the shore on Ocracoke Island, which is part of the Outer Banks, when a 7-foot gray shark pulled him under the water, according to Fox.

He was swimming in waist-deep water with his adult son when the attack occurred around 12:20 p.m.

The victim, who had several bites to his rib cage, hip, lower leg and both hands, was able to swim to shore where a doctor was able to stabilize him.

A witness told CNN that he saw a “trail of blood from the water to the sand.”

The man, who was visiting from Massachusetts, was airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina, and is now stable and alert.

Despite the onset of attacks this season, Shark expert Larry Cahoon says not to be alarmed.

“You have a higher chance of getting into a car accident driving to the beach than you do getting attacked by a shark when you get there,” Cahoon, professor of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, tells PEOPLE.

But when they do attack, just swim back to shore as fast as you can, he advises.

“People say to swim slowly back to shore, but what is that going to do? Swim to shore as fast as you can shark that means to eat you will keep coming. You need to call for help. People who survive all but the least damaging shark attacks got immediate help from others,” he says. “Basically, don’t swim alone in shark waters.”