HomeOutdoorsNewsTeen Girl Killed in ‘Unusual’ River Shark Attack While Trying to Swim With Dolphins

Teen Girl Killed in ‘Unusual’ River Shark Attack While Trying to Swim With Dolphins

by Caitlin Berard
Great White Shark Preparing to Attack Below the Surface
(Photo by Stephen Frink via Getty Images)

A teen girl jet skiing with friends was attacked by a shark and killed after leaping from her vehicle to swim with dolphins in Perth’s Swan River.

The 16-year-old girl reportedly suffered critical injuries in the shark attack, after which her friends called emergency services. She was pulled from the water and provided medical assistance, but was soon pronounced dead at the scene, according to Police Acting Inspector Paul Robinson.

“The family weren’t there when this took place,” Robinson said in a media briefing. “However, her friends were, and as you can imagine this is an extremely traumatic incident for anyone to witness. So, obviously, we’re offering counseling services to anyone who did witness it or is affected by the incident.”

Local Department of Fisheries representatives explained that, although Swan River does connect to the Indian Ocean, it was unusual for a shark to be so far down the river. “I’ve spoken to fisheries and water police. Unfortunately, we have no idea what type of shark it is,” Robinson said.

Andrew Chin, however, a senior research fellow at James Cook University, said that the Swan River is an ideal hunting ground for bull sharks. The sharks follow the abundance of fish upstream before attacking their prey for an easy meal.

“The Swan River estuary is good bull shark habitat. This means people can come into close contact with them,” Chin told CNN. “Unfortunately some encounters end badly and in this case with tragic results.”

“Bull sharks can be very bold. But it is also important to remember that these incidents are very, very rare events – (though) heartbreaking and traumatizing for everyone involved,” he continued. “Everyone should follow swimmer and shark safety advice from their local authorities [and] also be individually prepared in case the worst happens.”

River Shark Attack Marks the First Such Incident in 100 Years

According to officials, the death of the 16-year-old girl is believed to mark the first fatal shark attack in the Swan River in 100 years. In January 1923, a 13-year-old boy was killed while swimming in the water.

In 2021, a bull shark attacked an Australian man in his 50s near where the girl was killed. He was pulled from the water by witnesses, who stemmed the bleeding from his leg. Though he received a severe bite on the thigh, the man escaped the encounter with his life.

Every year, Australia records around 20 shark attacks as a whole. The majority of these occur in New South Wales and Western Australia. Fatal shark attacks, however, are exceedingly rare.

There were two fatal shark attacks in 2021 and seven more in 2020. In total, Australia’s shark attack mortality rate is 0.9, meaning less than one person per year dies by shark.