Stephen Perkins a fisherman the first to be bitten by a Blue Shark off the British Coast. Lundy Island, Devon
Fisherman bitten by blue shark has re-constructive surgery
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 01/09/2008
A fisherman has undergone re-constructive surgery after becoming the first person to be bitten by a blue shark off the British coast.
Stephen Perkins, 52, had just hauled the fish into his boat for a commemorative photograph when it sunk its teeth into his forearm.
It caused deep puncture wounds and Stephen was losing so much blood that an RAF Sea King helicopter was scrambled to collect him off the Devon coastline.
He was flown to hospital and underwent extensive surgery on his arm.
Stephen said: "We don't harm the sharks when we hook them. We just take a picture and put them back in the water but the one I got was pretty lively and having put his jaw around my wrist then let go.
"The scariest bit, to be honest, was going up in a helicopter. It won't put me off fishing again but I will remember to pick the shark up by the blunt end in future."
Stephen was fishing with a friend two miles off the west coast of Lundy Island in his boat 'Serenity' when the incident occured.
After hooking the shark he dragged it aboard, to pose for a picture before unhooking it and throwing it back.
But the shark bit Stephen's wrist before the pair managed to bundle it back overboard.
He was taken to North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple by a rescue helicopter from nearby RAF Chivenor, which was diverted from a training exercise.
On Sunday he was transferred to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where he received re-constructive surgery for his injuries.
Stephen, of Glamorgan, south Wales, was due to be released yesterday.
A spokeswoman for Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital said: "A 52-year-old man was treated for crush and ripping injuries caused by a shark on Saturday.
"There was no muscle or bone damage. He has been told by doctors he will need future treatment in the form of physiotherapy."
Over the past few years Blue sharks, known as '"wolves of the sea", have been reported swimming off the Devon and Cornwall coast.
In 1998, global warming experts claimed that there would be a sharp increase in the amount of Blue sharks in British water due to warmer sea temperatures.
Shark expert Douglas Herdson, 61, information officer at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon, said the attack was the first of its kind.
He said: "Two people have been bitten by sharks in this country - but they were by smaller, less deadly sharks.
"This is the first attack by a blue shark in this country, but it is very unlikely to be unprovoked."
Four people have been killed by Blue sharks, which grow up to 13ft long, worldwide and Herdson said they were one of the most efficient ocean hunters.
He said: "They can be pretty big and they have very efficient teeth for killing and eating their prey. It would be very foolish to grab the wrong end of this shark."
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