Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe a bull shark is responsible for a deadly attack.
16-year-old Stella Berry was killed in Perth’s Swan River.
Bull sharks, which can live in salt and fresh water, can be aggressive, although fatal attacks are rare.
Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe a bull shark could be responsible for the attack that killed a 16-year-old who was jet skiing with friends.
Australian Fisheries Minister Don Punch said it was too early to confirm which shark species is responsible for the deadly attack in the Swan River, but told ABC News he believes it is a bull shark.
“We know that bull sharks, in particular, invade estuaries and freshwater river systems, so it’s likely that’s the case,” he said.
Bull sharks are the most dangerous sharks in the world, according to many experts, because they hunt along coasts where people gather to swim. The species also lives in freshwater rivers, increasing the chance of encounters with humans. They are known to travel up the Mississippi River to, say, Illinois, a distance of 700 miles.
One or more bull sharks may have been responsible for the famous 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks that inspired Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws.”
One of the largest bull sharks on record was 4 feet long and weighed 990 pounds.
“A beautiful daughter who was a lively and happy girl”
High school student Stella Berry died on Feb. 4 while jet skiing with friends in the Swan River.
At a press conference, Western Australia police superintendent Paul Robinson said “a pod of dolphins may have been seen nearby, and the young female jumped into the water to swim near the dolphins,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“It is an extremely traumatic event for everyone involved and everyone who knew the young girl, so I will not comment on the extent of the injuries,” he said.
A tribute from the Berry family, shared with ABC News, described the high school student as their “beautiful daughter who was a vibrant and happy girl with plans to live in Europe after school.”
They said, “She had an infectious laugh. Stella loved making art and spending time with her friends, especially by the river and on the beach.”
Deadly shark attacks are rare in Australia. Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia said “in terms of these events, they are very rare events, but when they happen, it’s just appalling,” according to ABC News.
The Swan River had not seen a fatal shark attack since January 1923, when a bull shark killed a 13-year-old boy.
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