A snorkeler has sustained a leg injury after apparently being “bitten by a shark” while snorkeling off the coast of Cornwall in southwestern England.
The unnamed woman was rescued by Her Majesty’s Coastguard after the incident, believed to be the first shark attack of this kind in British waters since 1874, which took place near Penzance on Thursday.
HM Coastguard has since confirmed that a rescue team was dispatched to offer assistance after the suspected shark attack.
“HM Coastguard sent Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team to meet a snorkeler who suffered a suspected shark bite,” a statement from a spokesperson from the Maritime Coastguard Agency said.
“The coastguard was notified just before 12:30 p.m. on Thursday (July 28). It is believed the swimmer suffered a leg injury.
“The coastguard team met the casualty at Penzance harbour to assist with passing them into the care of the ambulance service.”
The woman was on a snorkeling trip when the incident took place.
Blue Shark Snorkel Trips, which organized the tour, said in a statement that “these occurrences are extremely rare and can be easily misunderstood.”
“As we know, these things can happen when we choose to interact with wild animals in their own environment. 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,” they added.
The company said that the person involved received first aid and was able to walk off the boat. The snorkeler, who was not identified in the statement, “received further treatment ashore.”
According to the tour organizer’s statement, the person involved told Blue Shark Snorkel Trips 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.”
No further details have been provided about the type of shark that may have been involved.
While the US has the highest annual number of documented shark bites in the world, with a total of 47 reported in 2021, the presence of sharks in British waters is very rare.
In fact, there have been no unprovoked shark bites in British waters in 175 years, according to UK charitable organization The Shark Trust.