By Chris King • 18 August 2023 • 19:30
Image of a blue shark.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons- Diego Delso/CC SA 4.0
A bather was bitten by a blue shark while swimming in the sea at a beach near the town of Oliva, on the Valencian coast of Spain.
The very rare incident occurred this Thursday, August 17, at Aigua Blanca beach and involved a blue shark. As the injured man – a resident of Oliva – explained to lasprovincias.es, he was only in water that came up to his knees when he: “saw a shadow, I felt a blow to my left leg and then a bite to my right foot’.
He was not alone in the water as there were also many other bathers cooling off in the sea on what was a hot day. ‘I didn’t have time to get scared. Noticing that blood was coming out of me, I went into the sea so as not to alarm everyone’, he told the news outlet.
Acting very discreetly, and displaying great calm under the circumstances, the wounded man made his way to the local Oliva Health Centre without even realising what had actually happened to him.
As reported by the medics, they treated the injury on the side of his foot and administered a dose of the tetanus vaccine. It was not possible to stitch his wounds because since they were inflicted by a living being, they could possibly become infected.
After taking photographs of the teeth marks on the man’s body, the medical staff proceeded to check what type of creature could leave that pattern of bites. They quickly determined they were caused by a blue shark.
As a result, the Oliva Council immediately ordered all bathing to be stopped on the three local beaches of Aigua Blanca, Rabdells and Aigua Morta. A surveillance protocol was subsequently initiated and the animal was quickly sighted in the area.
After verifying that the shark was no longer in the area, the surveillance was expanded along the entire coastline in order to monitor the shark’s movements.
On Friday morning, Salvador Llopis, the Councillor for Beaches made the decision to reopen the beaches. ‘There have been patrols and surveillance continues and the Oliva coast is free, so it has returned to normal’, he explained.
‘The first thing I am going to do when my foot heals is to go back. If you are afraid of things, you are lost’, commented the shark-attack victim after he left the Oliva Health Centre.
He thanked the Red Cross and the facility’s staff for the attention and care they gave him after the incident. He bravely downplayed what had happened to him but it will still be a number of days before he will be able to walk properly again.
Blue sharks are one of the most common shark species across the planet. They are also the ones that fishermen tend to go after most.
It is not unusual to spot these creatures in the coastal waters of Spain. According to the records of the Oceanogràfic Foundation in Valencia they normally only receive between four and six sighting alerts annually.
Jaime Penadés, a biologist from the facility explained that if the shark was swimming in barely half a metre of water then it indicates that: ‘It must be sick or disoriented since it bothers them a lot to be crawling through the sand, it is not their natural environment’.
He also pointed out that what happened in Oliva was not an attack but more of an interaction between the animal and the human, like a shock when disoriented.
This type of shark has very sharp teeth with a very marked upper jaw that in the event of an attack would cause greater damage. However, it rarely sees humans as prey because it is a meso predator and feeds on small fish and squid.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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