23 May 2024

An 8-year-old Thai-Ukrainian boy is thought to have be attacked by a bull shark as he was swimming in the sea off Phuket’s Kamala beach on Sunday.

The boy, identified as Napat Christalgold, required 33 stiches to close the wound inflicted on one of his legs. His condition is not serious and he is as playful as usual.

The boy said that it was sunset when he was swimming and saw the shadow of a creature under the water, which rushed at and attacked him. He said he punched at the big fish, which he thought was a barracuda, because he is familiar with the species.

He said that he felt pain in one of his legs and tried to swim ashore to seek help, adding that the people who rushed to his rescue didn’t believe he had been attacked by a barracuda until they saw the blood. They then took him to a hospital.

The boy was visited by Phuket Deputy Governor Pichet Panapong yesterday (Monday), accompanied by officials from the provincial fisheries office and the Marine and Coastal Resources Research Centre, as well as shark experts and a French underwater photographer.

Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, chief of the research centre, said that, judging by the wound and teeth marks, he believes the boy was possibly bitten by a bull shark, but definitely not a barracuda.

He also noted that the spot where the boy was attacked was within the surf zone, where some sharks come to forage for food. He added, however, that shark attacks are very rare in Phuket.

Signs were erected yesterday on Kamala beach advising bathers to be cautious while swimming in the area. The deputy governor also said that life guards will be deployed on the beach as a precautionary measure.