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Reports indicate fake shark attacks on the rise

Photo posted on Craigslist of 'shark attack' board



Shark Updates

Doubts cast on authenticity of two recent attacks

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 September, 2014 - Recently Beau Browning said he was surfing about 150 feet out to sea at Manresa State Beach shortly before 7 pm on September 13, when a shark attacked him. In Australia Elissa Sursara said she was attacked in Australian waters in September last year and spent a week in hospital recovering from the ordeal.

Sean Van Sommeran, a Santa Cruz shark expert with the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, said there are key signs to look for while determining if a shark attack really happened to Browning at Manresa.

"There will be subtle, if not obvious, teeth marks," Sommeran said. "Surfboards are constructed almost perfectly to seize a loose tooth. Half the boards I've seen, the shark left a fragment in it, either blood, or gum, or a tooth," Sommeran told KSBW. 

Roger Stoneburner was one of several skeptics who wrote into KSBW and said Browning seemed too calm to be a person who was just attacked by a shark. "Why so nonchalant? He was just slammed by a creature the size of a VW bus, no doubt at full speed to knock him 10-15 feet in the air. But he's not freaked at all," Stoneburner said. 

When interviewed by KSBW on Monday, Browning's story change slightly from his news interview that aired on TV Sunday. 

Read more of the KSBW story

In Australia scientists accused Australian shark victim Elissa Sursara of making the attack up. According to a report in the Courier Mail newspaper, Elissa Sursara said she was attacked in Australian waters in September last year and spent a week in hospital recovering from the ordeal.

The 26-year-old from the Gold Coast posted an image to her Instagram account depicting a large wound on a bare stomach, although she never claimed the photo is of her. Since Ms Sursara's story was published, including on this site, a number of shark activists and marine biologists have questioned her story and expressed doubt over the photo which appeared on her Instagram account.

Marine biologist and scientific adviser to the White Shark Advocacy group in Texas, Drew Scerbo, contacted Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday, claiming both the image and story were most likely false. Mr Scerbo said curiosity led him to check a number of incident registers and call shark experts who worked in the field of reviewing shark/human interactions to verify Ms Sursara's story.

"I ran an analysis on the image myself using photoshop after suspicions arose concerning the fact that this shark encounter was never reported to scientific agencies (International Shark Attack File and similar agencies)," Mr Scerbo said.

"The story in question... reported that the incident occurred in September of 2013. There is currently NO listing of any shark attack in Australia during that time. "

Sharks, Santa Cruz, Manresa, KSBW, Australia, Fake Shark Attacks

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