Benidorm shark ‘stabbed through brain’ in brutal suspected swordfish attack

An 8ft shark which panicked Brit holidaymakers out of the sea has died from a suspected swordfish injury.

Earlier this month the predator was darting through the waves at Poniente beach in Benidorm, Spain, causing a frenzied scene like in the movie Jaws.

Scientists checked over the 60kg blue shark which appeared to be disoriented but otherwise healthy and released it back into the sea.

Yet just over a week later, the same animal washed up dead on August 21, with a small wound by its eyelid compatible with a swordfish attack.

Jaime Penades, a researcher at the Marine Zoology Unit at Valencia University, said it is the only visible cause of the shark's death, and throws up questions over the two species.

El Pais reports scientists first saw a shark killed by a swordfish in Valencia 2016 when seven inches of a swordfish blade had was stuck in its brain.

Mr Penades said: "The sword completely pierced and split the shark’s brain in two. We were amazed at the time. We didn’t expect to find anything like it."

By June 2019, Mr Penades’ team had managed to document another five assaults.

He continued: "The attacks are made to the head, so the swordfish is acting with intention. It is not a random attack. It is also very accurate because it goes to the eyes or the brain, which are vital structures."

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Sharks join the likes of turtles, whales, boats and even anti-submarine mine floats as swordfish victims.

According to El Pais, stories of swordfish attacking sharks have been told by fishermen for years but dismissed by experts.

Mr Penades added: "Traditional knowledge tells us that fishermen had already encountered sharks with their heads impaled by a sword.

"Scientists are lagging far behind popular knowledge; sometimes we have to get closer to the fishermen.”

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Alex Bartoli, a biologist with the marine biodiversity conservation organization SUBMON, is not so sure about Mr Penades' theory of deliberate swordfish assaults.

He instead suggests injuries to sharks are accidental as both species hunt for the same prey.

Mr Bartoli said: "Where there are schools of fish, all the predators are trying to catch what they can.

“The swordfish go around swinging their sword to hit the small fish which, once stunned, will be eaten. In this maelstrom, the predators pass by at high speed and I think there are collisions.

"I think it is a hypothesis that is still to be proven, from here on, we will have to contrast evidence, but until there are more cases, I find it hard to imagine a fight between a blue shark and a swordfish."

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