Scientists baffled after second shark attack in Russia’s Far East

Scientists were at a loss to explain the reason for a second shark attack in 24 hours off Russia’s east coast on Thursday, after a shark mauled a teenager.

The shark attacked the 16 year old on Thursday near Zheltukhin Island, the local emergencies ministry said. The teenager suffered injuries to his legs and was taken to a hospital in Vladivostok.

“The young man’s flippers and wetsuit saved him from death. Some 20 meters off the coast, the shark grabbed the man’s legs, but the wetsuit served as a protective covering,” doctors said.

The victim is currently being prepared for a surgery and believe they will be able to save the boy’s legs from amputation.

“A primary surgical removal of unhealthy tissue from the numerous bite injuries in his lower limbs is underway. Surgeons believe amputation will not be necessary and the boy’s legs will be saved,” a Health Ministry spokesperson said.

On Wednesday afternoon, a 25-year-old man lost both hands during a shark attack in Telyakovsky Bay near the village of Vityaz in the Far Eastern Primorye Territory.

He underwent surgery and his arms were partially amputated. He is currently in intensive care and doctors say he is in stable condition.

Russian scientists say they are baffled by why the attacks are happening in the Russian Far East, as dangerous sharks are not usually found that far north in the Sea of Japan.

“Usually sharks attack people because of a lack of their normal food, or, because they are in groups with lots of other sharks which are feeding,” said a marine biologist at the biology faculty of Moscow University, who did not want to give his name.

“We have also observed a tendency recently for animals to move to regions where they have not been seen before. No-one really knows why. This shark would have had to go a long way north to turn up in this area,” he said.

An ichthyologist from the Institute of Marine Biology in the Far East said on Wednesday the first shark attack was most likely related to the presence of feeding grounds, as anchovies move towards shallower waters to warm themselves, though this usually occurs at the beginning of summer.

The only shark species native to the territory is the dogfish shark, which have never been known to attack humans. However, several white sharks, which can be dangerous to humans, have been detected in the area in the past few years, including a two-meter white shark caught in 2007.

Other sources of danger like swimming when drunk or nvisible sea worms are more likely to pose a real threat to people, the World Wildlife Fund in Russia’s marine program head Konstantin Sgurovsky said.

“There are a lot of predators and dangerous animals in the sea. For instance there are poisonous jellyfish and invisible sea worms in the tropics that are killing gently from the inside,” said Sgurovsky. “Shark attacks just attract so much attention in the mass media, especially after the Jaws films appeared. People getting drunk, or tour vessels cause many more deaths in the sea.”

Sgurovsky says tourists were sometime to blame for attacks by feeding marine animals, which attracts high concentrations of fish. “Usually shark attacks happen in the places where there are a lot of tourists that’s why the likelihood of such incidents is much higher there. Tourists can draw attention from sharks indirectly if they are feeding fish”, he said.



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