The victim was taking part in an organised trip from Penzance to snorkel with blue sharks – one of several species to visit the UK during the summer months – when the “freak event” occurred last Thursday.
The individual is believed to have suffered a leg injury, according to HM Coastguard, who met them at Penzance harbour to help them get to paramedics.
In a statement released by the tour company, Blue Shark Snorkel Trips quotes the victim as saying: “Despite how the trip ended, it was amazing to see such majestic creatures in the wild and I don’t for a second want this freak event to tarnish the reputation of an already persecuted species.”
They added: “What was a very scary incident was made so much easier by the kindness and calmness of the people around me.
“Thank you to the trip team for getting me back to shore quickly and carefully and making me feel as safe as I possibly could. We all take these risks when we enter the habitat of a predator and we can never completely predict the reactions of a wild animal.”
The company said it had “immediately enacted our emergency response plan, with first aid being carried out on the person involved”, adding that the individual “walked off the boat” to receive further treatment ashore following advice and assessment from the coastguard.
“We’ve tried to understand why it happened and are in continued talks with shark experts,” the tour firm wrote on Facebook.
Shark attacks are indeed very rare in British waters, with only around 10 having occurred since the 1800s, according to a database.
It records only one fatal incident, involving a swimmer near Hornsea exactly a century ago, since the first registered attack in 1785.
The most recent brush with a shark to pose any danger to the human involved is believed to have taken place in 2017, off the South Devon coast near Bantham, in which a surfer is reported to have walked away with a mere bruise on his leg and cuts on his hand from “where [he] punched it”.
Paul Cox, managing director of the charity Shark Trust, told The Independent at the time: “I personally wouldn’t describe this as an attack because it creates an impression that’s out of context. It’s an interesting and slightly unusual incident involving one of the 30 or so types of shark that we’re lucky enough to have living in British Seas.”