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Experts: Gray nurse shark bites likely accidental

April 22, 2013 at 1:33 PM

FORSTER, Australia, April 22 (UPI) -- Experts said an Australian fisherman who was bitten on the legs by one of two gray nurse sharks he encountered was likely not the intended target.

They said the 51-year-old fisherman was standing in knee-deep water Sunday at Crowdy Head when he accidentally caught a nurse shark in his net and another shark approached, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.

"The gray nurse shark was operating around a school of mullet, I mean that's what gray nurse sharks do, they're fish eaters," fishing commentator Peter Russel said. "This fellow had a gray nurse in his net, and he was letting that go when the other one raced in and chomped him."

Peter Hitchins, co-owner of South West Rocks Dive Center agreed that the incident was not an attack but rather a case of mistaken identity.

"This is not a shark attack," he said. "Gray nurse sharks are not a threat; they are still the Labradors of the sea. He was in a school of shark food and accidentally got nipped. In shallow water with the sand stirred up, they can't see what's going on. All they know is that food's there and I doubt he even saw the guy's legs, he was just biting for food."

The fisherman was taken to John Hunter Hospital with puncture wounds and lacerations to both legs.

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