Shocking Photos Show Stella Berry, Victim of Tragic Swan River Shark Attack

Jordan Claes
A Bull shark gliding along near the bottom of the water.
Unsplash | Gerald Schömbs

Swimming in cool waters on a hot day is a staple summer activity. But the small community of North Fremantle in Perth has come to learn the hard way that there may be more to what lies beneath than previously thought.

While jet-skiing with a group of friends, 16-year-old Stella Berry was mauled and killed by a shark. What makes an already terrifying situation even worse is that Stella was killed in a freshwater river—not in the ocean.

A Healthy Fear Of Sharks Is One Of The Most Common Phobias On Earth

A Great White shark breaching the water.
Unsplash | Alex Steyn

Roughly 51% of all Americans admit to being utterly terrified of sharks; 38% say that they avoid swimming in the ocean altogether.

As A Result, Many Prefer To Cool Down In Nearby Rivers And Lakes

A tree-lined river.
Unsplash | Jon Flobrant

After all, sharks can't survive outside of salt water, so there's no chance of coming into contact with one—right?

The Truth About Sharks and Fresh Water

A female AT&T rep saying, "Oh, that's terrifying."

Despite what you've been told, sharks can (and do) survive in fresh water. Granted, you won't find any Great Whites or Hammerheads, but the possibility of a Bull shark circling below your feet can't be ruled out.

This Is Precisely The Tragic Fate That Befell 16-Year-Old Stella Barry

A pod of dolphins jumping out of the water.
Unsplash | redcharlie | @redcharlie1

Stella was jet-skiing on Swan River in North Fremantle when she noticed a pod of dolphins nearby.

Joining The Dolphins in the River

Stella jumped into the river to swim alongside the dolphins and was attacked by a bull shark. Onlookers say that Stella's screams spurred a nearby man to jump into the river to attempt to save her.

A Tragic Outcome

A photo of a shark from below the surface.
Unsplash | Karen Zhang

Sadly, the injuries Stella suffered as a result of the attack were too severe. She was eventually pulled from the river with horrific injuries to her leg and died from the resulting blood loss.

Fremantle District Acting Inspector, Paul Robinson, Was Available For Comment

A bull shark swimming.
Unsplash | David Clode

"It's an extremely traumatic event for everyone involved and everyone who knew the young girl, so I won't be going into the extent of the injuries," Robinson said.

Shark Sightings In Swan River Are Very Rare

A shark swimming through the water.
Unsplash | Amanda Bear

Robinson made it clear that this was an uncommon event. He also made a point of stating just how unusual it was for a shark to have gotten itself so far upstream.

Prior To Stella's Death, There Hadn't Been A Shark Fatality In Swan River In Over A Century.

Three girls consoling one another.
Unsplash | Gemma Chua-Tran

The randomness of the attack only further compounded the sadness felt by Stella's friends and family.

Stella Was The "Sweetest And Smartest Girl That I Knew," Her Friend Laura Told ABC

People running a marathon.
Giphy | lululemon

Stella was an art lover and an avid runner, who dreamed of one day completing a marathon.

In The Wake Of Stella's Death, Questions Have Been Raised Regarding Swimmer Safety

A photo of an empty beach.
Unsplash | Paolo Nicolello

Western Australia Premier, Mark McGowan, offered his condolences and weighed in with his own thoughts on the matter.

"In Terms Of These Events, They're Very Rare Events, But When They Happen, It's Just Awful," McGowan said

Amanda Seyfried in 'The Dropout' saying, "It's complicated."
Giphy | HULU

McGowan notes that while there have been several safety measures implemented to help swimmers in the ocean, the river is a more complicated issue.

Unlike In The Ocean, Helicopter Patrols Don't Work In The River Due To Its Opaque Nature.

A helicopter stationary on a landing pad.
Unsplash | Yiran Ding

The shallow waters and sandy bottom causes the water to turn brown, making visibility almost impossible.

WA Fisheries Minister, Don Punch, Was On Site And Said Other Measures Could Be Considered

A Bull shark lurking near the bottom of a river.
Unsplash | Gerald Schömbs

Punch explained that a shark barrier could work as an alternative and that the Fisheries are always open to having these conversations with local government reps.

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