A snorkeler has suffered a suspected shark attack in what they described as a “very scary incident” off the coast of Cornwall.
The swimmer sustained a bite to the leg and needed help from HM Coastguard and ambulance crews following the encounter near Penzance on Thursday.
It is thought the woman was bitten by a blue shark while on a snorkelling trip – while swimming with a company named “Blue Shark Snorkel Trips”.
The firm said such incidents were “extremely rare” and they were “in continued talks with shark experts” as to what happened.
“As we know, these things can happen when we choose to interact with wild animals in their own environment,” the company said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“The last thing we want is to let speculation drive the media into a world of bad press for the sharks, under no fault of their own.
“We immediately enacted our emergency response plan, with first aid being carried out on the person involved.
“Following advice and assessment from the coastguard, the person walked off the boat and received further treatment ashore.”
The company also shared a statement from the victim, who said: “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.
“Wanted to thank everyone for their amazing actions. What was a very scary incident was made so much easier by the kindness and calmness of the people around me.”
Blue sharks visit the UK during the summer months from the Caribbean, and are known to mainly feed on small fish and squid, but have been known to attack seabirds and other small sharks, according to the Wildlife Trusts.
UK-based charity the Shark Trust says there have been no “unprovoked” shark bites in British waters since 1847, when records began.
HM Coastguard said in a statement: “HM Coastguard sent Penzance Coastguard Rescue Team to meet a snorkeler who suffered a suspected shark bite.
“The coastguard was notified just before 12.30pm on Thursday. It is believed the swimmer suffered a leg injury.
“The coastguard team met the casualty at Penzance harbour to assist with passing them into the care of the ambulance service.”