Rare blue shark bites reported in Ireland and Italy

Two rare blue shark encounters have come to light over the holiday weekend.

The first occurred off the coast of Ireland September 2.

Robert Malcolmson, a deep-sea angler from Belfast, was shark fishing off the coast of Cork before 6 p.m. when he hooked a blue shark.

As the shark was pulled next to the charter boat Deora De, it began thrashing and bit the 40-year-old on his lower left arm. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) was alerted and launched a rescue boat.


Volunteers with the RNLI rendezvoused with the fishing vessel and successfully transferred the fisherman to a rescue boat.

“This is the first incident of a shark bite that we’ve had to deal with, although the blue sharks are common,” a RNLI spokesman said.

“I’d like everyone to keep in mind that the shark was nowhere near angling or swimming water levels. The men involved were fishing for sharks when the bite happened as he was trying to dehook the shark.

“The injury is absolutely not life-changing, and it was a repairable flesh wound. The guys onboard did everything right, it was a small nip while fishing. He was successful in catching the shark, just unlucky in dehooking.

“The first aid he received from the men on his boat was second to none.”

The fisherman was taken to shore before being transported to the University hospital and is listed in stable condition.

A second unprovoked bite occurred in Italy on or about August 18.

An unidentified man was playing with friends in the waters off Torino di Sangro in the province of Chieti when something grabbed his calf.

The 24-year-old said he was in knee-deep water when he felt a pain in his calf. Looking down he saw blood appear as a fin disappeared into the water.

Fisherman in the area assisted the man who was taken to the emergency room in Lanciano. Twenty stitches were used to sew up his wound.

Blue sharks are common in both areas, but bites are rare. The sharks prefer to feast on squid and other small fish. According to the Global Shark Attack File, there have been approximately 7 unprovoked blue shark bites reported since 1980.

There have been a total of 65 shark attack bites (43 with injury, 13 of which are considered provoked*) publicly reported in 2018. Two fatal**; 23 were reported in the U.S., with 8 occurring in Florida and 2 in Hawaii. Fifteen have been reported in Australia, none fatal. Seven unconfirmed bites, worldwide, not included in the total count.

All locations have been marked on the 2018 Shark Attack Bites Tracking Map.

*Provoked defined as spearfishing, feeding sharks, fishing, etc. (listed with green marker).
**One possible scavenge



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