Authorities in the Thailand seaside royal city of Hua Hin are in damage control after a 54-year-old Norwegian man was mauled by a shark while swimming on one of its highly prized beaches.
Video was first posted on the Facebook social media platform on Sunday, April 15 (and subsequently removed) showing a man identified in local media reports as Werner Daniels, being carried along Sai Noi Beach in Prachuap Khirikhan by a group of people, his left foot badly lacerated and dripping blood, before being loaded into the back of a pickup truck.
While local media first reported that doctors who treated the injured man claimed the lacerations were not consistent with a shark attack, but rather were caused by rocks and possibly barnacles, that story changed on Tuesday (April 17) when district officials said the man was most likely bitten by an aggressive bull shark.
Announcing plans to erect signs in Thai, Chinese, and English languages along the beach warning of a shark danger, and the installation of a floating safety net to protect swimmers, deputy Prajuab Khirikhan governor, Chotnarin Kertsom, today (April 17) said a military and police task force will be established to monitor beaches and react to any threat.
Leading a high-level delegation of district officials to visit Mr Daniels in hospital to express regrets at his injury, Mr Kertsom said that he suspected the shark mistook the Mr Daniels’ foot for food in the murky water. He also advised beach-goers against wearing red or orange bathing suites, or any with a colour or design that resembles the scales of fish, adding that people should also avoid murky water and should not swim at night, or alone.
Local fishermen have reported sharks close to shore in increasing numbers in the waters off Hua Hin, while the abbot of Wat Tham Khao Tao, Phra Khru Bunyaphiram, on Monday posted a video of what appear to be blacktip reef sharks swimming in circles off what are said to be rocks at the base of the temple.
Sharks in Thailand
|Video Sarah Stark|
Of more than 400 known species of shark, 14 are frequently found in Thai waters, including the blacktip and whitetip reef shark, grey reef sharks, zebra sharks, nurse sharks, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, and tiger sharks.
However, despite its thousands of kilometres of coastline and the hundreds of thousands of people who swim, or take part in water sports such as windsurfing, parasailing, or jet skiing annually, shark attacks are rare.
In 2015 a 37-year-old Queensland, Australia woman, Jane Neame, suffered non-life threatening injuries when bitten by a shark at Karon Beach, Phuket, and in 2013 a 38-year-old German tourist, Stephan Kahl from Hamburg, died after suffering two major bite wounds which cut an artery on his right calf at Tharn Sadet Bay, off a small island near Surat Thani Province.
According to the Facebook-based The Hua Hin Daily Mr Daniels has needed some 40 stitches, and has also had 19 pins inserted into his foot and ankle, the shark having totally torn away his Achilles tendon; a similar injury to that suffered by Ms Neame in 2015.
As for Mr Daniels, he says he’ll be back in the water as soon as he is able, telling local media organisation Banmaung “No shark is going to stop me”.
Feature video Ch3Thailand