Article

Unprovoked Fatal Shark Attack in Lifou Island (Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, South Pacific) by a Great White Shark, Carcharodon carcharias

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  • IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)
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Abstract

The case of a fatal, unprovoked shark attack is reported and analyzed. The incident took place on the 30th of September 2007, in the lagoon of Luengoni Bay, Lifou Island (Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia). A young French woman who was snorkeling was severely bitten on the right thigh and died of hemorrhage. An analysis based in particular on the size and color of the shark, the characteristics of the wounds, and the behavior of the shark before and after the bite suggests that the aggressor was a great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias.

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... 4299 has been published previously. 9 The authors, E. Clua and B. S eret, ascribed the attack to the great white shark, 9 but this interpretation differs from other accounts. 3,4,10 As explained in their paper, 9 E. Clua and B. S eret acknowledged that their description was based on interviews of witnesses, a police report, a death certificate and some photographs. ...
... Detailed accounts of the attack, which took place in Luengoni (Lifou Island, New Caledonia) on 30 September 2007, have been written. 4,9 The wound was ascribed to "a single large bite with a maximum length of about 40 cm". 9 Disputable points are enumerated in the following. ...
... 4,9 The wound was ascribed to "a single large bite with a maximum length of about 40 cm". 9 Disputable points are enumerated in the following. It was reported "that the teeth did not form a continuous cutting edge but instead were separated by more or less wide spaces" 9 ; also, the shark had been reported to "jump out of the water" at the moment of the attack, 9 prompting authors E. Clua and B. S eret to identify the attacker as a great white shark, a shark species that seasonally occurs in New Caledonian waters. ...
Article
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To understand the causes and patterns of shark attacks on humans, accurate identification of the shark species involved is necessary. Often, the only reliable evidence for this comes from the characteristics of the wounds exhibited by the victim. The present case report is intended as a reappraisal of the Luengoni, 2007 case (International Shark Attack File no. 4299) where a single shark bite provoked the death of a swimmer by haemorrhagic shock. Our examination of the wounds on the body of the victim, here documented by so-far unpublished photographic evidence, determined that the shark possessed large and homodontous jaws. This demonstrates that the attacker was a tiger shark, not a great white shark as previously published. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine. All rights reserved.
... Case study A: description of the wound on a 23-year-old female fatally bitten in a shallow water lagoon in New Caledonia. This case study was adapted from [42][43][44] (same case). ...
... The hypothesis of the white shark should then prevail. Also, based on behavioural features of the attack (provided by a witness), Clua and Séret [42,43] concluded that the candidate species for this 2007 attack in Lifou Island was a white shark and not a tiger shark as supported by Tirard et al. [44]. This choice seems to be supported by the tools provided by Lowry et al. [40]. ...
... Case study D: complementary wounds evidence for shark ID from [42,45] Case studies A and B also provide examples of evidence that support the identification of the attacking species. Actually, in both cases, the wounds presented large flesh flaps that are specific to the white shark, given the specific position of its teeth and the large interdental spaces (see Figures 3 and 4). ...
... There are very few species of fish that will physically damage the skeleton – perhaps the most well known is the shark. The bite of a shark is usually curved (Clua and Séret, 2010) where the broad serrated teeth of adult shark species typically gouge chunks of flesh from large prey, whereas sharks with long awl-like teeth are associated with those that grab and swallow fast moving fish (Ferrara et al., 2011). Allaire et al. (2012determined five common shark bite marks that have been identified on bone. ...
... These marks are invaluable in the identification of shark injuries because individual species leave their own characteristic mark allowing the identification of the predator (Ihama et al., 2009). Note that the bite of a shark can also be strong enough to fully break a bone (Clua and Séret, 2010) or in some cases completely sever off limbs (Ihama et al., 2009). ...
Article
Human and animal interaction can lead to conflict. Animal attacks taken place for many reasons including means of self-defence, hunger, protection, and scavenging. Most animals under specific conditions will attack a corpse. Further, most animals have been reported as having bitten and attacked living humans. In these attacks, morphological characteristics are often left behind on the bone. These features can help identify the species of animal involved, and the wider context of the interaction. This chapter describes the recognizable characteristics that different species of animals leave on the bone and the different imaging methods available to help describe and identify the specific trauma.
... Assignments to the species for the sharks involved in attacks are thus difficult and often disputable (e.g. [21][22][23]), and may be influenced by individual experiences, and knowledge of previous attack history at the site. Additionally, observations and wound characteristics only bring limited information about the individual such as an estimate of its size and rarely discriminant marks. ...
Article
Each year, 75-100 unprovoked shark attacks on humans are recorded, most of them resulting in no or minor injuries, while a few are fatal. Often, shark identification responsible for attacks relies on visual observations or bite wound characteristics, which limits species determination and preclude individual identification. Here, we provide two genetic approaches to reliably identify species and/or individuals involved in shark attacks on humans based on a non-invasive DNA sampling (i.e. DNA traces present on bite wounds on victims), depending on the knowledge of previous attack history at the site. The first approach uses barcoding techniques allowing species identification without any a priori, while the second relies on microsatellite genotyping, allowing species identification confirmation and individual identification, but requiring an a priori of the potential species involved in the attack. Both approaches were validated by investigating two shark attacks that occurred in Reunion Island (southwestern Indian Ocean). According to both methods, each incident was attributed to a bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas), in agreement with suggestions derived from bite wound characteristics. Both approaches appear thus suitable for the reliable identification of species involved in shark attacks on humans. Moreover, microsatellite genotyping reveals, in the studied cases, that two distinct individuals were responsible of the bites. Applying these genetic identification methods will resolve ambiguities on shark species involved in attacks and allow the collection of individual data to better understand and mitigate shark risk.
... Sharks are marine predators that constitute a potential threat to humans and their specific behaviours often play a critical role in triggering fatal attacks (Clua & Séret 2010;Clua & Reid 2013;Clua et al. 2014). Several authors have recently outlined the economic importance of shark-based ecotourism which far outweighs the single-use income obtained from fishing (Clua et al. 2011;Gallagher & Hammerschlag 2011;Vianna et al. 2012). ...
... It is well recognized that hunger is not the main motivation of white shark attacks, 14,15 but the several strikes and the heavy loss of flesh during this attack support the hypothesis of a feeding behaviour. Young and juvenile white sharks between 1.4 and 2.7 m TL feed preferentially on squid and cartilageous fishes while the diet of white sharks >3.0 m TL is mainly composed of marine mammals. ...
Article
We present the case of a non provoked fatal shark attack on a 19-year old male surfer in New Caledonia. Several severe bites removed the right arm and all flesh from the right thigh, provoking a quick hypovolemic shock that was fatal. The information provided by a witness and the analysis of a partial bite on the right calf allowed us to identify a 2.7 m TL (est. length) white shark as responsible for this attack. The features of the attack are consistent with a young predator motivated by hunger and the development of its predatory skills.
... Disasters at sea, including shipwrecks and airplane crashes, may introduce large numbers of bodies, or parts thereof, at one time [4,[7][8][9][10][11]. Although rare, instances of shark or other marine animal predation upon humans may introduce partial remains after feeding [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. Human remains from burials at sea also may be discovered later [23], and the original method of disposal may not be immediately clear. ...
... Given the global paucity of data for large sharks in general, further research to address the movement patterns of bull sharks should be a high priority. Firstly, because this species represents a potential threat to humans along with the tiger shark Galeocerdo cuvier and the white shark Carcharodon carcharias in New Caledonia (Clua and Séret 2010) and around the world. Secondly, because this species plays a critical role in coastal ecosystems and requires conservation measures (Werry et al. 2012;Froeschke et al. 2013). ...
Article
Conservation of threatened large sharks and management of shark-human interactions requires an understanding of shark occurrence and movement patterns. Here, we present the first catch, movement and behaviour data of adult bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, in New Caledonia. Amongst six adult C. leucas tagged with passive acoustic tags, four females were caught in coastal waters while males were only found at an isolated oceanic barrier coral reef over 100 km from the nearest river mouth. Two females were monitored in the southern New Caledonia lagoon for 707 and 208 days respectively and displayed classical transient behaviour and sporadic short-term residency around a coastal reef bay, with movements in and out a river detected prior to spring. Adult C. leucas in New Caledonia may develop a sex-based spatial segregation with an atypical presence of adult males in oceanic environments, probably influenced by the unique estuarine-marine continuum of the New Caledonian great lagoon.
... 4 For example still in New Caledonia, the two fatal attacks that occurred in 2007 and 2009 were scientifically analyzed and it was concluded that the species involved in both attacks was a white shark, consistent with the seasonal occurrence in New Caledonian waters of this migratory species. 3,5 Here we describe the case of a young male kitesurfer who was fatally attacked in March 2011 by a shark in a reef passage off Koumac, North Western coast of New Caledonia (South Pacific). The information provided by the witnesses and the forensic analysis of the attack has allowed us to accurately determine the species involved and propose an hypothesis defining the features of the attack. ...
Article
We present a case of a non-provoked fatal shark attack on a 15-year old male kitesurfer in New Caledonia. The victim lost his board and was pulled by the sail along the water surface in a reef passage when a shark attacked. The shark inflicted at least two bites on the left leg, including a severe one around the knee, resulting in a quick hypovolemic shock that was fatal. The analysis of one of these bites indicated that a 2.8 m TL (est. length) tiger shark was responsible for this attack. The features of the attack are consistent with those of a predator response to a surface feeding stimulus.
... Even more sparse is information found in naturalist publications such as fi sh identifi cation books (Fourmanoir and Laboute, 1976;Laboute and Grandperrin, 2000). A nonexhaustive list of White Shark occurrences in New Caledonia can be found in Clua and Séret (2010) These studies provided accurate data on the size and gender of the animals. ...
Chapter
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Several occurrences of White Sharks in tropical waters have been reported, but in the context of gaps in the knowledge of the ecology of that top predator, they appear as unusual and unexpected destinations. The New Caledonian exclusive economic zone covers 1,400,000 km 2 , with sea-surface temperatures oscillating between 20 and 21°C in winter and 28 and 32°C in summer. We have vali-dated fi fty-two sightings of White Sharks between 1943 and 2010, mainly based on professional fi shing bycatches and observations at sea. We obtained information on season in thirty-nine cases, shark size in forty-seven cases, and gender in twelve cases. To this, we added information for six different animals that were tagged with pop-up archival tags in New Zealand in April 2005 (two sharks) and March 2009 (four sharks), before releasing their tags in New Caledonian waters a few months later. Fifty-two percent of the animals were spotted in winter (July to September), 26% in spring (October to December), 23% in summer (January to March), and none in fall (April to June), which corresponds with the best season for tagging them in New Zealand. Thirty-two percent of the sharks were shorter than 3.8 m total length (TL), 45% between 3.8 and 4.4 m TL, 15% between 4.5 CONTENTS
... Disasters at sea, including shipwrecks and airplane crashes, may introduce large numbers of bodies, or parts thereof, at one time [4,[7][8][9][10][11]. Although rare, instances of shark or other marine animal predation upon humans may introduce partial remains after feeding [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]. Human remains from burials at sea also may be discovered later [23], and the original method of disposal may not be immediately clear. ...
Article
Full-text available
The present research examines a sample (n=25) of human bone cases that were recovered from the shoreline or ocean waters near Massachusetts, United States, and submitted for analysis to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Boston. All macroscopic taphonomic changes resulting from the physical and biological effects of extended marine immersion were compiled and compared to taphonomic alterations from other environments. Multiple taphonomic characteristics were prevalent after extended marine immersion, including battering and rounding (96.0% of cases) and bleaching (88.0%), with adherence by marine species of mollusks (8.0%), barnacles (36.0%), and Bryozoans (4.0%), or, in some cases, surface alterations to bone by these adhering taxa. Other common changes included adipocere formation (20.0%); reddish (24.0%) or dark (12.0%) mineral staining; and adhering sand (52.0%), silt (8.0%), or algae and seaweed (36.0%). Bone condition (disregarding bleaching or staining) included still greasy because of leaching fat (32.0%), retaining an organic sheen (44.0%), or a chalky appearance (24.0%). Multiple traits may be used to distinguish a marine environment as the origin of unknown osseous remains from other common forensic sources, including terrestrial surface decomposition and weathering or buried remains.
... In conclusion, both the macroscopic characteristics of the lesion and the geographic location of the incident suggest that the lesion examined here was an unsuccessful bitemark, likely to have been caused by a juvenile specimen of Isistius brasiliensis. This diagnosis was confirmed by an expert ichthyologist who has been consulted on numerous cases of shark attacks across the world [40,41]. This interdisciplinary approach proved successful in other cases of shark trauma on human remains [9,14]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The feeding patterns of species of large sharks on human corpses are well documented in the literature however, that of smaller sharks are less known. This may introduce uncertainty in the medicolegal conclusions. For that reason, accurate identification of patterns of shark predation is very relevant, specifically in areas bordered by the sea. In the case described here, an unidentified lesion was noted on the body of a victim of a scuba diving accident off the island of Kauai, in Hawaii. The aim of this study was to identify the origin of the lesion and investigate its potential to inform on the context of death and/or decomposition. The original outline of the lesion was digitally reconstructed to enable the collection of measurements which were compared with the literature and interpreted with an interdisciplinary approach. This approach permitted to determine that the macroscopic appearance and dimensions of the lesion (major axis = 3.53 cm) were consistent with a bitemark of a cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis). It was further determined that the bitemark was incomplete and that the specimen involved had a total length of about 24 cm and was likely to be a juvenile. This is the second report in the published literature of cookiecutter bitemarks on humans in the Hawaiian waters. This study brings new evidence-based insights into the interactions between cookiecutter sharks and human remains in marine environments and provides a valuable contribution to the knowledge base on the topic.
... Human remains are frequently introduced into marine environments through homicide, suicide, and accidents [130 -132]; disasters at sea [133][134][135][136]; relatively rare instances of death caused by marine animals, especially sharks [137][138][139][140][141][142][143][144][145][146][147][148]; or burials at sea [149]. Rivers also may transport remains into the ocean [150 -156]. ...
Article
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How a set of osseous remains under forensic anthropological examination is analyzed and processed and reaches its ultimate disposition is largely guided by the taphonomic source of the remains, including environmental and temporal factors. The environment from which the remains came, whether largely natural or artificial, alters the remains in ways that allow for the determination of their origin and subsequent taphonomic histories. Remains are also subject to temporal jurisdiction, in that older remains may be forwarded to other agencies, including state archaeological offices, for final disposition. The present research examines and compares the taphonomic alterations that are formed on bones from multiple sources that are commonly received in medical examiner settings: terrestrial, marine, cemetery, trophy, and former anatomical teaching specimens. Each of these sources has unique taphonomic alterations associated with it, and careful examination can elucidate the history of a set of remains, even where their environment has changed, including repurposing for ritual or other uses.
... The systematic recording, description, and analysis of SHI has sparked scientific interest worldwide, including in Africa 11,12 , Australia 6 , North and South America 8,13,14 , French Polynesia 15 and New Caledonia 16 . Forensic analyses have made it possible to often identify shark species involved in bites 17,18 . ...
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Tiger sharks are important predators in the seagrass ecosystem of Shark Bay, Australia. Although sharks appear to return to a long-term study site within the Eastern Gulf periodically, the extent of their long-term movements is not known. Five sharks fitted with satellite transmitters showed variable movement patterns. Three sharks remained within the Shark Bay region and another made a 500km round-trip excursion to oceanic waters northwest of the bay. These four sharks showed relatively low displacement rates relative to sharks tracked over shorter time periods, suggesting that sharks move through large home ranges that include Shark Bay. Although no reliable position fixes were obtained for the fifth shark, we were able to use the timing of satellite uplinks and the position of the satellite to determine that it had moved at least 8,000km to the coastal waters of southeast Africa in 99days—the longest recorded movement by a tiger shark. This movement and previously documented trans-Atlantic movements suggest that tiger shark populations may mix across ocean basins and that tiger sharks are subject to anthropogenic effects at great distances from protected waters. Finally, our method for using single satellite uplinks may be useful in estimating movements for wide-ranging species that rarely provide high quality location estimates.
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Two pairs of recurring attacks by white sharks on divers are detailed. A free-diving spearfisherman was fatally injured at Isla de Guadalupe, Mexico. Eleven years later, a second free diver was attacked while spearfishing at the same location. The swim fin of a commercial abalone diver was bitten at Point Conception, California, and an abalone sport scuba diver was attacked at the same site only four days later. The possible existence of attack prone microsites, perhaps characterized by the presence of pinnipeds and the absence of canopy-forming vegetation, is considered. The use of wound characteristics related to tooth interspace measurements for determining the causal species and approximate shark size is discussed. Diver safety recommendations and precautions are highlighted.
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As a result of a systematic morphometric study of shark dentitions, a system of notation for describing the location of shark teeth has been developed and is proposed as a standard to be adopted for use in similar studies in the future. The macroscopic morphology of White Shark teeth has been characterised in order to gain quantitative data which might assist in identification of these sharks from bite marks on victims or objects or from shark carcasses. Using these data, a nomogram has been developed which can be used to estimate the body length of a White Shark from measurements of tooth or bite mark morphology. An example of the forensic application of such allometric data is provided as it applied to a recent fatal attack on a diver by a White Shark.
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Shark attacks have primarily been analyzed from wound patterns, with little knowledge of a shark's approach, behaviour and intention leading to such wounds. For the first time, during a shark-human interaction project in South Africa, a white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, was filmed biting a vertically positioned person at the water surface, and exhibiting distinct approach patterns leading to the bite. This bite was compared to ten white shark attacks that occurred (i) in the same geographical area of South Africa, and (ii) where the same body parts were bitten. Close similarity of some of these wound patterns to the bite imprint of the videotaped case indicate that the observed behaviour of the white shark may represent a common pattern of approaching and biting humans.
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Carcharodon carcharias was studied at Dangerous Reef, South Australia. A single bit action is composed of a uniform sequence of jaw and head movements. Various approach behaviors to baits were documented. Small sharks (<3 m) feed primarily on fish prey, while larger sharks feed on marine mammals, especially pinnipeds. Telemetric studies of white shark thermal biology show that they are warm-bodied, c4-5oC above ambient water temperature. -from Sport Fishery Abstracts
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The results of recent studies on Carcharodon carcharias on the coast of California are reported, supplementing this with findings from a symposium held in March 1993. Information is provided on: the life cycle and seasonal migratory movements; distribution of attacks in space and time and attack behaviour in the autumn at the South Farallon Islands; the species preyed upon, mainly northern elephant seal Mirounga angustistirostris, harbour seal Phoca vitulina, California sea lion Zalophus californianus and Steller's sea lion Eumetopias jubatus, and the prey capture behaviour observed with different species; and prey selection and the type of prey preferred. -J.W.Cooper
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Agonistic displays in 23 species of sharks of six families are described and illustrated. These displays are reviewed in terms of ethological concepts and shark hydrodynamic models. Shark agonistic displays feature many common elements rendering them readily distinguishable from normal swimming and pseudodisplays caused by sharksucker irritation. Shark agonistic displays are most readily elicited by rapid, direct diver approach when food is absent and potential escape routes restricted. Such displays appear to be motivated by defence of self or the immediately surrounding space rather than defence of territory or resources. Costs and benefits of display versus attack in shark–shark and shark–diver contests are evaluated using payoff matrices and optimal strategies are identified. Shark–human interactions are modelled in terms of a system of nested critical approach distances. For divers faced with a displaying shark, responses which may decrease the likelihood of defensive attack are suggested. Recommendations for future work on shark agonistic behaviour are offered.
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Shark predation may have been a central factor influencing the evolution of sociality in dolphins, as well as a determinant of dolphin habitat use and behavior. To understand the role of predation in driving interpopulation differences in behavior and sociality, it is important to quantify differences in predation risk among populations. This study describes the frequency of shark-inflicted scars and estimates the shark attack rate on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Shark bite scars were found on 74.2% (95 of 128) of non-calves, and most of these scars were inflicted by tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier). Although there were no differences among age/sex classes in the frequency of scarring, significantly more adult males than adult females bore multiple scars. The rate of unsuccessful shark attack was estimated to be between 11% and 13% of dolphins attacked each year. Large sharks (>3 m) were responsible for a disproportionate number of attacks. However, bites from small carcharhinid sharks on 6.2% of dolphins suggest that some of these small sharks may be dolphin ectoparasites. Both the scar frequencies and attack rate suggest that Shark Bay dolphins face a greater risk of predation than bottlenose dolphins in other locations.
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Shark attacks are rare but devastating. This case had major injuries that included an open femoral fracture, massive hemorrhage, sciatic nerve laceration, and significant skin and muscle damage. The patient required 15 operative procedures, extensive physical therapy, and orthotic assistance. A review of the literature pertaining to shark bites is included.
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Trauma caused by marine scavengers and predators, especially sharks, is not well known. This paper describes the effect of shark attack on human remains. They were found in the stomach of a tiger shark caught by fishermen near Hollywood Beach, Florida. The remains belonged to a white male in his late twenties or early thirties with a stature of 175 cm. The damages to the skeleton and the association of these damages with the behaviours of tiger sharks is also analyzed. The trauma affecting long bones are circular punctures around the epiphyseal ends. Other changes include unique crescent shape grooves horizontal to the shaft of the bone. Although all of the bones are affected, none of them is fractured or crushed, suggesting that the body parts are first dismembered and then swallowed and digested.
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The teeth of the Great White Shark have been examined to ascertain whether there is any commonality in the arrangement or number of the marginal serrations (peaks) or, indeed, whether individual sharks have a unique pattern of shapes or size of the peaks. The teeth of the White Shark are characteristic in size and shape with serrations along almost the entire mesial and distal margins. This study has revealed no consistent pattern of size or arrangement of the marginal serrations that was sufficiently characteristic within an individual shark to serve as a reliable index of identification of a tooth as originating from that particular shark. Nonetheless, the serrations are sufficiently distinctive to enable the potential identification of an individual tooth as having been the cause of a particular bitemark.
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To examine the pattern of injuries in cases of fatal shark attack in South Australian waters, the authors examined the files of their institution for all cases of shark attack in which full autopsies had been performed over the past 25 years, from 1974 to 1998. Of the seven deaths attributed to shark attack during this period, full autopsies were performed in only two cases. In the remaining five cases, bodies either had not been found or were incomplete. Case 1 was a 27-year-old male surfer who had been attacked by a shark. At autopsy, the main areas of injury involved the right thigh, which displayed characteristic teeth marks, extensive soft tissue damage, and incision of the femoral artery. There were also incised wounds of the right wrist. Bony injury was minimal, and no shark teeth were recovered. Case 2 was a 26-year-old male diver who had been attacked by a shark. At autopsy, the main areas of injury involved the left thigh and lower leg, which displayed characteristic teeth marks, extensive soft tissue damage, and incised wounds of the femoral artery and vein. There was also soft tissue trauma to the left wrist, with transection of the radial artery and vein. Bony injury was minimal, and no shark teeth were recovered. In both cases, death resulted from exsanguination following a similar pattern of soft tissue and vascular damage to a leg and arm. This type of injury is in keeping with predator attack from underneath or behind, with the most severe injuries involving one leg. Less severe injuries to the arms may have occurred during the ensuing struggle. Reconstruction of the damaged limb in case 2 by sewing together skin, soft tissue, and muscle bundles not only revealed that no soft tissue was missing but also gave a clearer picture of the pattern of teeth marks, direction of the attack, and species of predator.
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On average there are approximately 50 confirmed shark attacks worldwide annually. Despite their rarity, such incidents often generate much public and media attention. The injuries of 86 consecutive victims of shark attack were reviewed from 1980 to 1999. Clinical data retrieved from the South African Shark Attack Files, maintained by the Natal Sharks Board, were retrospectively analyzed to determine the nature, treatment, and outcome of injuries. The majority of victims (n = 68 [81%]) had relatively minor injuries that required simple primary suture. Those patients (n = 16 [19%]) with more extensive limb lacerations longer than 20 cm or with soft-tissue loss of more than one myofascial compartment were associated with higher morbidity and limb loss. In 8 of the 10 fatalities, death occurred as a result of exsanguinating hemorrhage from a limb vascular injury. Victims of shark attack usually sustain only minor injuries. In more serious cases, particularly if associated with a major vascular injury, hemorrhage control and early resuscitation are of utmost importance during the initial management if these patients are to survive.
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Shark attacks are rare but are associated with a high morbidity and significant mortality. We report the case of a patient's survival from a shark attack and their subsequent emergency medical and surgical management. Using data from the International Shark Attack File, we review the worldwide distribution and incidence of shark attack. A review of the world literature examines the features which make shark attacks unique pathological processes. We offer suggestions for strategies of management of shark attack, and techniques for avoiding adverse outcomes in human encounters with these endangered creatures.
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Bite wounds on humans have rarely been comparatively analyzed, and the behavior leading to such bites is virtually unknown. Nevertheless, the behavior of a shark is reflected in the bite structure and should be an essential part of shark-accident analysis. This paper compares 3 nonfatal accidents on humans, caused by bull sharks, Carcharhinus leucas, that occurred within a 12-month period in the same area of the Bahamas. Examination focused on wound analysis and accident reconstruction to determine the most likely bite motivation of the sharks. Two sharks targeted the left calf areas of the victims; another one bit the back area of a person. Although both calf bites had a very similar appearance, examination concluded that one of them showed the same triggering behavior as for the shark who inflicted the very different-looking back bite. Those 2 bites were competitive, whereas the other calf bite was initially of exploratory nature, turning into a stress-related bite.
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Investigation of a number of shark attacks in South Australian waters has lead to recognition of pattern similarities on equipment recovered from the scene of such attacks. Six cases are presented in which a common pattern of striations has been noted.
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Two cases of fatal shark attack are reported where the only tissues recovered were fragments of lung. Case 1: An 18-year-old male who was in the sea behind a boat was observed by friends to be taken by a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). The shark dragged him under the water and then, with a second shark, dismembered the body. Witnesses noted a large amount of blood and unrecognizable body parts coming to the surface. The only tissues recovered despite an intensive beach and sea search were 2 fragments of lung. Case 2: A 19-year-old male was attacked by a great white shark while diving. A witness saw the shark swim away with the victim's body in its mouth. Again, despite intensive beach and sea searches, the only tissue recovered was a single piece of lung, along with pieces of wetsuit and diving equipment. These cases indicate that the only tissue to escape being consumed or lost in fatal shark attacks, where there is a significant attack with dismemberment and disruption of the integrity of the body, may be lung. The buoyancy of aerated pulmonary tissue ensures that it rises quickly to the surface, where it may be recovered by searchers soon after the attack. Aeration of the lung would be in keeping with death from trauma rather than from drowning and may be a useful marker in unwitnessed deaths to separate ante- from postmortem injury, using only relatively small amounts of tissues. Early organ recovery enhances the identification of human tissues as the extent of morphologic alterations by putrefactive processes and sea scavengers will have been minimized. DNA testing is also possible on such recovered fragments, enabling confirmation of the identity of the victim.
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