Man Attacked by Shark: Australian Bitten on Both Legs in Knee-Deep Water

Monday, 22 Apr 2013 12:04 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A 51-year-old fisherman suffered severe puncture wounds when he was attacked by a shark off the coast of Australia's New South Wales on Sunday.

Alan Saunders was in knee-deep water trying to free some sharks from a fishing net when he was attacked by a grey nurse shark nearly 10-foot long.

"Alan was involved in removing one of the sharks out of the wings of the net," said Ray Saunders, the victim's brother. "He released that shark but another shark came in and bit him on both legs."

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Saunders was treated by emergency medical services on the scene before being flown to a local hospital for treatment for puncture wounds and lacerations to his legs, reported the International Business Times.

Grey nurse sharks are reportedly common off Australia's East coast between Queensland and southern New South Whales. The species, which is generally not seen as a threat to swimmers unless provoked, are known to prey on other sharks, dolphins, and swordfish.

The sharks, which are found throughout the world, have a tendency to hunt in reefs and near the shoreline which often results in them getting caught in the nets of commercial fishermen, reported the Business Times.

According to Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File, there were 57 documented shark attacks in Australia since 1876, of which 27 were fatal.

Of the 57 documented shark attacks in the waters off Australia, 23 occurred in New South Whales, where the last fatality was in 1993.

In the United States, shark attacks in 2012 tied 2000's record high of 53 unprovoked attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File.

The state of Florida had the most attacks with 26 reported encounters.

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Globally, there were 80 unprovoked attacks in 2012, seven of which proved fatal, reported the University of Florida.

The increase in shark attacks is likely due to human encroachment on their habitat, said George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File program. Sixty percent of attacks were on surfers, reported Discovery News.

Related stories:

Thousands of Migrating Sharks Off Florida Coast Close Beaches

Great White Sharks: California's Endangered Species Act Protects Predator

Mass. Officials Confirm Great White Shark Attack

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