A bull shark is probably behind the fatal attack of a 16-year-old girl swimming in a river, authorities say

Bull shark

Bull sharks often have river systems that bring them into contact with humans.Alexander Pollock Photography/Getty

  • Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe a bull shark is responsible for a fatal attack.

  • Stella Berry, who was 16 years old, was killed in the Swan River in Perth.

  • Bull sharks, which can survive in both salt and fresh water, can be aggressive although fatal attacks are rare.

Authorities in Perth, Western Australia, believe a bull shark may have been responsible for the attack that killed a 16-year-old who went jetskiing with friends.

Australian fisheries minister Don Punch said it was too early to confirm the species of shark responsible for the fatal attack on the Swan River but ABC News said he believes it could be a bull shark.

“We know that bull sharks, in particular, enter estuaries and freshwater river systems, so that’s likely to be the case,” he said.

Bull sharks are the most dangerous sharks in the world, according to many experts, because they hunt near shores where people gather to go swimming. The species also lives in freshwater rivers which increases the chance of it coming into contact with humans. They knew how to travel up the Mississippi as far as Illinois, for example, a distance of 700 miles.

One or more bull sharks may have been responsible for the famous 1916 Jersey Shore shark attacks that inspired Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws.”

One of the largest bull sharks recorded was 13 feet long and weighed 990 pounds.

“A beautiful daughter who was a lively and happy girl”

High school student Stella Berry died on February 4 while jet skiing with friends in the Swan River.

Speaking at a press conference, West Australian Police Inspector Paul Robinson said, “a pod of dolphins may have been seen nearby, and the young female jumped into the water to swim next to the dolphins,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s a very traumatic event for everyone involved and everyone who knew the young girl, so I won’t go into the extent of the injuries,” he said.

A tribute from Berry’s family shared with ABC News described the high school student as their “beautiful daughter who was a lively and happy girl with plans to live in Europe after school.”

They said, “She had an infectious smile. Stella loved to create art and spend time with her friends, especially at the river and the beach.”

Fatal shark attacks are rare in Australia. Premier Mark McGowan of Western Australia said, “in terms of these events, they are very rare events, but when they happen, it’s just terrible,” according to ABC News.

The Swan River had not seen a fatal shark attack since January 1923, when a bull shark killed a 13-year-old boy.

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