Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 September 2019

Emirati fisherman recovering after shark attack off Khorfakkan

Ali Al Baloushi, 42, was in the water around four metres away from his boat at around 7am when he was attacked by a shark, believed to be a Sicklefin Lemon shark, and bitten on his right leg.
Ali Al Baloushi is recovering from his encounter with a sicklefin lemon shark. Courtesy Hassan Al Baloushi
Ali Al Baloushi is recovering from his encounter with a sicklefin lemon shark. Courtesy Hassan Al Baloushi

KHORFAKKAN// An Emirati fisherman is recovering in hospital after being attacked by a two-metre shark off Khorfakkan on Friday.

Ali Al Baloushi, 42, was four metres from his boat when he was attacked by a shark, believed to be a Sicklefin Lemon shark, and bitten on his right leg.

“The incident occurred after he had spent an hour in free diving,” said Hassan Al Baloushi, the injured fisherman’s brother. “After he had caught two fish and was going back to the boat, he did not notice the shark which attacked him from the back and clamped Ali’s right leg with its jaw.

“The shark pulled him right and left. When his friend Omar saw this, he shot the shark with a speargun to free Ali from its jaw,” Mr Al Baloushi said.

The injured fisherman was pulled on board the boat and rushed back to shore before being taken to Khorfakkan Hospital.

Doctors said Mr Al Baloushi’s condition is stable and the wound does not require an surgery. However, he was transferred to a hospital in Abu Dhabi on Sunday as a precaution.

“He has severe pain in his leg but doctors are giving him pain killers. They said he will be able to walk later but we are scared because he has diabetes which could affect the healing of his wound,” Mr Al Baloushi said.

“Sharks do not attack humans who are on the surface of the water. They just move around them. But if a diver provokes a shark or there is blood, the shark will attack,” Mr Hassan said.

Fisherman later caught a shark in the area close to where Ali was attacked. The fish weighed around 200 kilogrammes.

“It was huge compared to the ones that we usually see in the water and it was only one nautical mile away from the shore,” Mr Al Baloushi said.

Experts said it was likely that the shark was trying to take the fisherman’s catch rather than attack him.

“Spear fishermen often catch fish and slot them in their pocket bags. In this case, the shark was aiming for the dead fish and must have mistaken the man for a fish,” said Michela Colella, operations manager of Divers Down Centre Al Aqah.

“Sharks are at the top of the food chain and keep the ocean’s ecosystem in balance, their existence is important and we need to work on protecting them,” she said.

David Robinson, assistant operations manager at The Aquarium at the Burj Al Arab hotel, said it is common to see Sicklefin Lemon shark in the area.

“These kinds of shark are not designed to eat mammals as they only feed on fish so the shark didn’t attack to eat the fisherman that’s for sure, but it’s an unfortunate and sad incident and we hope that the fisherman will feel better soon,” said Mr Robinson.

roueiti@thenational.ae

rhaza@theantional.ae

Updated: May 14, 2017 04:00 AM

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