Wednesday 23 October 2019

Tourist badly injured in Shark attack in French Polynesia.

A tourist has been severely injured in a Shark attack off the island of Moorea in French Polynesia. The 35-year-old woman, described as a French Citizen, was attacked by the Shark while taking part in a diving trip to see Dolphins in the ocean outside the island's lagoon, when she was attacked by the Shark, believed to have been an Oceanic Whitetip, Carcharhinus longimanus,  at about 10 am local time on Monday 21 October 2019. The woman is reported to have lost both hands at the wrist and a breast in the attack. She was given first aid by a nurse and firefighters at a hotel on Moorea, before being airlifted to a hospital on Tahiti.

An Oceanic Whitetip Shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, off the Elphinstone Reef on the Red Sea coast of Egypt accompanied by Pilot Fish, Naucrates ductor. Thomas Ehrensperger/Wikimedia Commons.

Oceanic Whitetip Sharks are notoriously vicious, and are the species most commonly associated with attacks on shipwreck victims. They are generally slow moving, but are capable of busts of speed, and will tend to hover near potential prey in packs, waiting for an opportunity for a sudden lunge attack. However as an oceanic Shark they are seldom encountered close to shore, so attacks by them are uncommon in the twenty first century, when most Shark attacks involve sea-bathing tourists in inshore waters rather than ship-wrecked sailors on the high seas. 

Once one of the most abundant large Sharks, Oceanic Whitetips are now considered to be Vulnerable
under the terms of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, due to overfishing, with the population in the northwest and west-central Atlantic considered to be Critically Endangered. The species is protected in the United States and New Zealand, and listed on Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which forbids the trade in the species or its bodyparts without a permit issued by an appropriate government department.

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