Just when you thought it was safe to go to the aquarium...
Shark attacks are rare in the waters off New Jersey. They are virtually unheard of in the confines of an aquarium, however. At least that was the case until last December, when officials confirmed, that a volunteer diver was bitten on the ankle by a sand-tiger shark at Adventure Aquarium in Camden.
"This was an accident; the uncertainty of animal behavior is always a risk," Greg Charbeneau, Adventure Aquarium's executive director, said in a statement published in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Earlier this week, reports did confirm that diver with the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences did sustain an injury upon entering the Shark Realm exhibit at the aquarium on Dec. 6. First aid was administered at the scene to the unidentified volunteer, who was later treated at Cooper University Hospital. Charbeneau said the diver has recovered and is back at the aquarium.According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), the scary-looking sand-tiger shark is popular in aquariums. Despite its ominous appearance and sharp, ragged teeth, the creature is fairly harmless, officials said.
The incident was the first between shark and man in the aquarium's 18 years.
George Burgess, director of the ISAF, said he would define the Camden incident as more of a "workplace incident" than a shark attack.
"It's not a big deal for us, because they are not unprovoked shark attacks. That's what we look for," Burgess said. "Shark bites are a story, though. We know that."
Sand tiger sharks, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh several hundred pounds, are found on the Atlantic coast as well as in South America and Australia, Burgess said. The ISAF has documented only 29 attacks by the species, two of which were fatal.
In 1916, there was a series of shark attacks in the Atlantic waters between Matawan and Beach Haven that left four people dead and became the inspiration for Peter Benchley's "Jaws."
There has been at least one more fatal attack in the Garden State since then.