Australian Teen Killed by Shark After Jumping into the Water to Swim with Dolphins

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A teenage girl who had jumped into the water in a bid to swim with dolphins was killed by a shark in Australia on Saturday.

The 16-year-old, identified as Stella Berry, suffered critical injuries after apparently being attacked by the shark in Perth's Swan River. She later died.

"There was possibly a pod of dolphins seen nearby and the young female jumped in the water to swim nearby the dolphins," Police Acting Inspector Paul Robinson said, according to ABC News.

Berry was Jet-Skiing with Her Friends, Who Witnessed the Attack

Stella Berry
Stella Berry and Perth's Swan River, where the shark attack took place. Twitter

Berry's friends were jet skiing with her at the time of the fatal incident. Robinson said the victim was jet skiing and then jumped on the water shortly before the incident around 3.20pm.

"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," Robinson reportedly said.

Berry Once Designed an Ocean Pool to Keep Swimmers Safe from Sharks

In 2017, Berry was featured in a local paper for her design of a shark-free ocean pool for Perth's Cottesloe Beach, according to The school engineering project was submitted to the council after great white sharks had been spotted in the area, prompting an open call for ideas.

Stella and a classmate garnered praise from then-Cottesloe mayor Jo Dawkins over the assignment, which allowed smaller fish to filter through to the pool, while keeping out larger predators. While the ocean pool never came to fruition, Ms Dawkins said that Stella's idea was so impressive it could have been implemented at Cottesloe Beach.

Was it a Bull Shark Attack?

bull shark
A bull shark (For representational purposes only). Twitter

"I've spoken to fisheries and water police and unfortunately we have no idea what type of shark it is," Robinson said. However, Andrew Chin, a senior research fellow at James Cook University, told CNN the rare encounter was not without precedent.

"The Swan River estuary is good bull shark habitat and this means people can come into close contact with them," Chin reportedly said. "Everyone should follow swimmer and shark safety advice from their local authorities [and] also be individually prepared in case the worst happens."

A shark warning was sent so visitors would steer clear from the scene while police conduct their investigation. The last time that a shark killed a person in the Australian river was exactly a century ago, when a 13-year-old was bitten to death in 1923.

Around 20 shark attacks are recorded every year in Australia, according to the BBC. Two fatal incidents were recorded in 2021, while seven were documented the previous year.

This article was first published on February 6, 2023