Snorkeler bitten by shark off Cornwall coast in 'freak event' near Penzance

Basking shark in Cornwall
The woman involved says she does not want the incident to "tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species."

A snorkeler has been rescued by the coastguard after being bitten by a shark off the coast of Cornwall.

The female swimmer was near Penzance when her leg was injured on Thursday (28 July).

She was brought back to shore where she received medical attention from paramedics.

The snorkeler said that although the bite was a "very scary" incident, she does not want it to "tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species".

HM Coastguard confirmed it is believed the injury was caused by a suspected shark bite.

A spokesperson said: "HM Coastguard sent Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team to meet a snorkeler who suffered a suspected shark bite.

Basking sharks are one of several types of shark commonly seen off the coast of Cornwall - though it is not in their nature to bite humans Credit: Alex Mustard/2020VISION/PA

"The coastguard was notified just before 12.30pm 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."

Although blue sharks, porbeagle sharks and basking sharks are a common sight in Cornish waters, none of them tend to attack humans and bites in the UK are a rare occurrence.

Shark attacks are 'extremely rare and can be easily misunderstood'

The swimmer was off the coast of Cornwall with Blue Shark Snorkel, who have said shark attacks are "extremely rare and can be easily misunderstood" if not treated and discussed sensibly.

In a statement, the boat tour agency said: "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."

Blue Shark Snorkel added that as soon as the swimmer was injured, they "immediately enacted our emergency response plan, with first aid being carried out on the person involved".

Following advice and assessment from the coastguard, the person "walked off the boat and received further treatment ashore".

Blue Shark Snorkel also said that they have "tried to understand why it happened and are in talks with shark experts."

Snorkeler: 'Freak event' should not tarnish the reputation of a 'persecuted species'

After being taken ashore and treated by paramedics, the snorkeler was taken to hospital for stitches but has since been released.

In a statement, she said: “I just wanted to say 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.

Blue sharks are regularly seen off the coast of Cornwall - but can unfairly gain a bad reputation Credit: Aaron Barrett

"I wanted to thank everyone for their amazing actions. What was a very scary incident was made so much easier by the kindness and calmness of the people around me.

"Thank you to the trip team for getting me back to shore quickly and carefully and making me feel as safe as I possible could."

She added: "We all take these risks when we enter the habitat of a predator and we can never completely predict the reactions of a wild animal."