The search follows experts telling Phuket Governor Nisit Jansomwong yesterday that they were almost certain a bull shark was responsible for the attack on Australian tourist Jane Neame, 37, at Karon Beach on Monday (August 31). (See story here.)
“If it is a bull shark, like experts say, it would be dark grey in colour and officials will catch it and remove it from the area to protect tourists,” said Vice Governor Dr Pallop Singhasaenee.
“We have also contacted hotels and resorts to warn tourists and residents to be vigilant when playing on the beach and no one should swim alone,” he added.
The order to ramp up shark safety follows French shark documentary film-maker David Martin and Dr Kongkiat Kittiwatthanawong, Chief of the Marine Endangered Species Unit at the Phuket Marine Biology Centre (PMBC), meeting Governor Nisit yesterday (Sept 2).
“After examining the wound [on Ms Neame’s foot] I am 90-per-cent sure that the fish that bit Ms Jane is a baby bull shark, maybe 1-1.5 metres long,” Mr Martin told Gov Nisit.
“This type of fish is able to adapt to freshwater. We often find them near deltas and in the ocean this fish can come close to the beach, usually near cloudy water or waves.”
Mr Martin said that although shark attacks were rare, a baby bull shark remained his top choice as the most likely culprit to have bitten Ms Neame.
“Sharks are found all over the world. There are 480 species of them, but only three to four species will harm humans, and one of those is the bull shark,” he said.
The order to scour the seas off Phuket for a likely suspect shark also follows shark expert Tassapon Krajangdara, a specialist at the Phuket Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre, assuring in his professional opinion that the sea animal that seriously injured Ms Neame was not a shark.
Instead, he believes Ms Neame was bitten by a puffer fish or a trigger fish. (See story here.)
Mr Tassapon forwarded his report, which included his consultation with other Asean shark experts, to V/Gov Pallop only this morning.
Meanwhile, V/Gov Dr Pallop visited Ms Neame at Bangkok Hospital Phuket last night.
“Doctors said it will take at least six to seven months for her wound to heal,” he said.
“But Ms Neame is recovering well and she completely understands that this was an unforeseen incident and is very positive about the whole situation.”