A teenage girl was killed by a shark as she swam with a family of dolphins. Police in Australia said that 16-year-old Stella Berry had been riding on a jet ski on the Swan River just south of Perth when she saw the pod of dolphins and dived in to swim with them.
But there was also a bull shark in the area – and friends on a nearby bridge watched on in horror as Stella was pulled beneath the surface. Stella, who was bleeding profusely from a bite to her thigh, was pulled ashore by an unidentified hero bystander, but could not be revived.
It is believed to have been the first fatal shark attack in the Swan River in Western Australia since a 13-year-old boy was killed there in 1923.
Stella’s parents, Matt and Sophie Berry, both teachers, said they were ‘devastated and deeply shocked’ by the loss of their ‘beautiful’ daughter. ‘Stella was a vibrant and happy girl with plans of living in Europe after school,’ they said.
‘She was a caring person and was a dear friend to many, across a variety of schools in the area. She had an infectious laugh which we couldn’t help laughing at too when we heard it. ‘She was a beautiful and loving big sister and the best daughter we could have hoped for.’ The ferocious bull shark is said to be as dangerous as the great white.
They can grow up to 3.5 metres long and weigh as much as a quarter of a tonne. Extremely agile, the predators can swim at speeds of 40 kilometres an hour. They sometimes hunt dolphins and are willing to travel into freshwater in pursuit. They are named for their blunt snout and tendency to head-butt prey before attacking. Dr Leo Guida, of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the attack was random and Stella had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
‘It’s exceptionally rare, which is what I suppose makes it all the more tragic,’ he added. Stella’s friends gathered on the river banks yesterday to pay tribute. One of them, Lara Connolly, said: ‘She was the sweetest and smartest girl that I knew and she had never done anything wrong to anybody.’ Anoth
er friend, Teagan McArthur, said Stella’s death did not feel real. ‘We were all in contact with her less than 24 hours ago and now she’s not here with us,’ she said. Police Inspector Paul Robinson said: ‘This was very, very traumatic and Stella’s family has been devastated