A snorkeler suffered a leg injury in an apparent shark attack that was incredibly rare for two reasons. It involved a blue shark, a species that almost never attacks humans, and it took place in British waters, where unprovoked shark attacks are almost unheard of. Britain's Maritime Coastguard Agency says a rescue team was sent to assist the woman after the suspected attack occurred 10 to 15 miles off the coast of Cornwall, CNN reports. She was taken a local hospital for stitches and was later released.
While there have been cases of British fishermen bitten by sharks they had hauled onto their boats—and one case of a chef who needed stitches after feeding shrimp to a captive shark—this is believed to be the most serious attack of its kind in records going back to 1847, the Telegraph reports. Blue sharks are common in British waters in the summer months and the snorkeler was on a trip with the Blue Shark Snorkel tour company. The company says it is "in talks with shark experts" to try to understand what happened. Blue sharks can be up to 13 feet long. Experts say there have only ever been four confirmed fatal blue shark attacks on humans and 25 non-fatal attacks, per CBS.
A local fisherman tells the Telegraph that the tour boat had been "chumming" the water to attract sharks. "Fancy getting the sharks in a feeding frenzy then jumping in with them," he says. In a statement, the woman thanked rescuers, saying the "very scary incident was made so much easier by the kindness and calmness of the people around me," ITV reports. "Despite how the trip ended, it was amazing to see such majestic creatures in the wild and I don’t for a second want this freak event to tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species." (Read more shark attack stories.)