A 16-year-old girl was killed in what officials believe to be a rare shark attack in the city of Perth, Australia, on Saturday.
The girl, identified as Stella Berry, had been on a jet ski when she jumped into the Swan River, Police Acting Inspector Paul Robinson said, according to the Associated Press.
“There was possibly a pod of dolphins seen nearby and the young female jumped in the water to swim nearby the dolphins,” he said. She was critically injured in the attack and died at the scene.
“The family weren’t there when this took place, however, her friends were and as you can imagine this is an extremely traumatic incident for anyone to witness so obviously we’re offering counseling services to anyone who did witness it or is affected by the incident,” he said.
BREAKING: A teen girl has died in the first fatal shark attack in Western Australia’s Swan River in a century. #7NEWS https://t.co/gk8m5n9TOe
— 7NEWS Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) February 4, 2023
“The Swan River estuary is good bull shark habitat and this means people can come into close contact with them,” said Andrew Chin, a senior research fellow at James Cook University, according to CNN.
“Unfortunately some encounters end badly and in this case with tragic results,” Chin said.
“Bull sharks can be very bold but it is also important to remember that these incidents are very, very rare events — (though) heartbreaking and traumatizing for everyone involved,” he said.
Professor Culum Brown, director of higher degree research biology at Macquarie University, said bull sharks breed in estuaries at this time of year, according to the Guardian.
“This time of year the bull sharks are in the river more than normal, it’s the breeding period. The females move into the river and the males chase them,” Brown said.
Western Australia Fisheries Minister Don Punch indicated he believes a bull shark attacked the teen, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“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.
“There’s only been six recorded historical attacks in the river, and this would make it seven,” he said.
A Perth student who was fatally attacked by a shark in the Swan River on Saturday has been identified as Stella Berry, with her parents left “devastated and deeply shocked”. https://t.co/YdpVj8IlDN
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) February 5, 2023
“Stella was a vibrant and happy girl with plans of living in Europe after school. She was a caring person and was a dear friend to many, across a variety of schools in the area,” her parents said in a statement.
The family of 16-year-old Stella Berry who was killed by a shark in the Swan River have just released a statement. @7NewsPerth
“We are devastated and deeply shocked by the loss of our beautiful daughter Stella.
“We want to acknowledge the amazing support we have received.” pic.twitter.com/hChJUUtxFJ
— Ben Downie (@Ben_Downie) February 5, 2023
“She had an infectious laugh … Stella loved creating art and spending times with her friends, particularly at the river and beach,” her parents said in their statement.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.