UK shark attack fears after swimmer bitten in the leg off Cornwall coast

The Coastguard confirmed it rescued a snorkeler who was suffering with a leg injury

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A snorkeler had to be rescued off the coast of Cornwall after she was bitten by a shark.

The woman was believed to be on a trip to spot blue sharks off the coast of Penzance when she suffered a leg injury.

It is believed to be the first shark attack on a person in UK waters in more than 150 years.

Blue Shark Snorkel Trips, the company that organised the tour, said such incidents were “extremely rare” and 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.

A Blue Shark
A Blue Shark

“We immediately enacted our 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.”

The firm also shared a statement from the victim, who said: “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.”

A HM Coastguard spokesman confirmed they had dealt with a suspected shark bite.

He said: "HM Coastguard sent Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team to meet a snorkeler who suffered a suspected shark bite.

"The coastguard was notified just before 12.30pm on Thursday (July 28). It is believed the swimmer suffered a leg injury."

He also told Cornwall Live: "The coastguard team met the casualty at Penzance Harbour to assist with passing them into the care of the ambulance service."

Blue sharks can grow up to 13 feet long and have previously attacked humans, although they are not thought to be an aggressive breed.

The British Sea Fishing website says: "Blue shark attacks on humans are extremely rare but have been recorded. In total, on a world-wide basis, there are four confirmed cases of fatal blue shark attacks on humans with twenty-five confirmed non-fatal attacks.

"In August 2012 a beach in Ceredigion, Wales was closed to bathers due to the presence of a blue shark.

"The shark was spotted swimming in between boats and came very close to the shore, swimming past tourists in just a few feet of water.

"Later in the same month another beach in West Dorset had to be closed for an hour and a half due to another blue shark."