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A bull shark likely behind fatal attack of 16-year-old girl swimming in a river, say authorities

Bull sharkBull sharks often frequent river systems that brings them into contact with humans.

Alastair Pollock Photography/Getty

  • Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe that a bull shark is responsible for a fatal attack. 
  • 16-year-old Stella Berry was killed in the Swan River in Perth. 
  • Bull sharks, which can live in salt and fresh water, can be aggressive though fatal attacks are rare.

Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe that a bull shark could be responsible for the attack that killed a 16-year-old who went jetskiing with friends.

The Australian fisheries minister Don Punch said that it was too early to confirm the species of shark responsible for the fatal attack in the Swan River but told ABC News that he believes it may be a bull shark. 

“We do know that bull sharks, particularly, do enter estuaries and freshwater river systems, so it is likely that may be the case,” he said.

Bull sharks are the most dangerous sharks in the world, according to many experts, because they hunt along shorelines where people gather to swim. The species also inhabits freshwater rivers increasing the chance of encounters with humans. They have been known to travel up the Mississippi as far up as Illinois, for example, a distance of  700 miles.

One or more bull sharks may have been responsible for the famous 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks that inspired Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws.”

One of the biggest bull sharks recorded was 13 feet long and weighed 990 pounds.

“A beautiful daughter who was a vibrant and happy girl”

High School student Stella Berry died on February 4 while jet skiing with friends in the Swan River. 

Speaking at a press conference, Western Australia Police’s Inspector Paul Robinson said, “there was possibly a pod of dolphins seen nearby, and the young female jumped in the water to swim nearby the dolphins,” per The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s an extremely traumatic event for everyone involved and everyone who knew the young girl, so I won’t be going into the extent of the injuries,” he said.

A tribute from the Berry family shared with ABC News described the high school student as their “beautiful daughter who was a vibrant and happy girl with plans of living in Europe after school.”

They said, “She had an infectious laugh. Stella loved creating art and spending time with her friends, particularly at the river and beach.”

Fatal shark attacks are rare in Australia. Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia said, “in terms of these events, they’re very rare events, but when they happen, it’s just awful,” per ABC News. 

The Swan River had not seen a fatal shark attack since January 1923, when a bull shark killed a 13-year-old boy.

Read the original article on Business Insider