It’s not everyday someone gets bitten by a shark off the coast of Ireland. In fact, it’s difficult to find information on it ever happening before. But at the weekend a Belfast man sustained a serious lower arm injury after being bitten by a blue shark whilst angling.
Crosshaven RNLI volunteers received the distress call on Saturday evening and launched the lifeboat immediately. It’s believed the angler had caught a blue shark and sustained the bite while recovering it onto the angling boat.
The deep sea angling boat Deora De steamed towards Crosshaven from about eight miles offshore and rendezvoused with the Crosshaven lifeboat about four miles south of Roches Point.
The casualty had been given immediate first aid by the crew of the angling boat before being transferred to the lifeboat where further casualty care was given on board by lifeboat crew.
The lifeboat was met at Crosshaven by a NAS Paramedic crew who transported the casualty to University hospital.
Our Ocean Neighbours: Blue Sharks
Irish waters are home to several shark species including the massive basking shark, the far smaller dogfish, and the blue shark.
As the name suggests, blue sharks are blue in colour and this affords them a form of camouflage known as countershading. Viewed from above the deep blue blends with the murky ocean depths below; viewed from below the white underside helps the shark to blend in with the light coming from the water’s surface.
Blue sharks are often observed swimming slowly near the surface, but are capable of explosive bursts of speed. Blues feed mainly on smaller prey, predominantly schooling fish and squid, but will readily take larger prey items such as smaller sharks and marine mammals.
Although blue sharks are among the most abundant, widespread and fastest growing of the world’s shark species, they are also the most heavily fished sharks in the world. An estimated 10 to 20 million blue sharks are caught and killed each year, causing concern not only for the future of the sharks, but also about the potential impact of removing such a key predator from the oceanic ecosystem.