Suspected Cornwall shark attack first in UK for 175 years

Despite 'very scary incident', victim doesn't want to 'tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species'

Blue shark (Prionace glauca), Faial-Pico Channel, Azores Islands, Portugal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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A snorkeller was the recent victim of a suspected shark attack off the coast of Cornwall in the UK.

In what was described as a “very scary incident”, the swimmer suffered a bite to the leg and needed help from HM Coastguard and ambulance crews following the encounter, which took place near Penzance on Thursday.

The snorkeller was reportedly bitten by a blue shark.

“HM Coastguard sent Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team to meet a snorkeller who suffered a suspected shark bite,” said HM Coastguard said in a statement following the incident.

“The coastguard was notified just before 12.30pm on Thursday. It is believed the swimmer suffered a leg injury.”

Blue Shark Snorkel Trips, the company that organised the tour, said such incidents were “extremely rare” and that they were “in continued talks with shark experts” as to what happened.

“As we know, these things can happen when we choose to interact with wild animals in their own environment,” the company said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“The last thing we want is to let speculation drive the media into a world of bad press for the sharks, under no fault of their own.”

The company said that, following the incident, it immediately enacted its emergency response plan, with first aid being carried out on the person involved.

“Following advice and assessment from the coastguard, the person walked off the boat and received further treatment ashore,” it added.

The victim said in a statement released by the firm that, “despite how the trip ended, it was amazing to see such majestic creatures in the wild and I don’t for a second want this freak event to tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species”.

“Wanted to thank everyone for their amazing actions. What was a very scary incident was made so much easier by the kindness and calmness of the people around me,” the victim said.

Blue sharks visit the UK during the summer months from the Caribbean and mainly feed on small fish and squid, though they have been known to attack seabirds and other small sharks, the Wildlife Trusts said.

UK-based charity the Shark Trust says there have been no “unprovoked” bites in British waters since 1847, when records began.

Updated: August 02, 2022, 9:44 PM
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