“Initially, we suspected that the injury was caused by one of two types of sharks found in the area: bull sharks and the blacktip sharks, which we find around Kamala Beach,” Dr Kongkiat, a well-respected marine research biologist who was studied marine life in the Phuket region for decades, said yesterday (May 2).
“But, in the opinion of David Martin, an underwater photographer and shark expert, it’s very unlikely to have been a blacktip shark due to the nature of the attack being very violent. The injuries are believed to be caused by a bull shark,” he said.
“However, we cannot confirm exactly which species it is, but the wounds were definitely caused by a shark, because the scene of the incident is not known for barracuda.
“Specifically, the wound was caused by a shark as both upper and lower teeth were used in combination. It was a sharp wound on both sides and had both upper and lower teeth snapped at the same time. Therefore, it corresponds to the nature of the wound caused by sharks,” Dr Kongkiat said.
“In addition, the scene of the incident was a ‘stationary zone’ where sharks were active. The incident was most likely caused by the movement of the injured [boy] in the cloudy water.
“The shark then came in for food, and thought it was food, therefore biting the injured leg. But when it took a bite it found that it was not food and therefore did not attack again.
“Also, it’s very rare that something like this happens,” Dr Kongkiat said.
Dr Kongkiat explained his opinion to the press yesterday when David Martin and Phuket Vice Governor Pichet Panapong met with the young boy, Naphat Chaiyarak Khrystenko, a Thai child with a Ukrainian father and Thai mother who all live together in Phuket.
Naphat’s injuries were serious wounds, requiring more than 30 stitches.
After speaking with Naphat at a restaurant opposite Mission Hospital Phuket in Rassada yesterday afternoon, Vice Governor Pichet explained that Naphat was bitten in the water in front of Kamala Police Station.
Naphat was some 100 metres from shore, but still in water only one metre deep, V/Gov Pichet said.
V/Gov Pichet highlighted that Naphat and his parents were not tourists. If they were, they would be entitled to some extra assistance, he noted.
“But when it is a person in the province, that right has been lost. The mother of the child understands this very well,” he said.
“As for which marine animal attacked the child, academics and experts are the ones to make the best analysis,” V/Gov Pichet added.
“Beach guards have been instructed to pay particular attention when supervising tourists’ swimming in the sea. At the same time, warning signs and towers must be placed to watch over tourists.
“Another thing might be the use of drones, but in the end the best method is warning signs for tourists,” V/Gov Pichet said.