Size assessment and species identification are paramount after a fatal attack for profiling a ‘problem-animal’ that could be specifically eliminated. In addition to ecological and behavioural data about candidate species, forensic analysis can provide critical information for achieving this goal. After providing basic information about fatal attacks and the anatomical features of the three species (white shark, tiger shark and bull shark) that are responsible for >80% of lethal interactions, this chapter presents the most used tools for assessing the species and size of a potential attacker. The size assessment can be done through measurements (on the body of the victim or from good-quality photographs) of the bite width (BW) and bite circumference (BC); the size is then obtained from regressions from the literature between BW/BC and total length. The average interdental distance (IDD) is also used through a similar process. Finally, other details of the wounds, such as the shape of the bite margin or of flesh flaps that directly depend on the jaw characteristics, can also be used to contribute to the final assessment. Although important, a forensic analysis should be complemented by data on shark ecology and behaviour for a more reliable conclusion.
Part of the book: Post Mortem Examination and Autopsy