Parents’ tribute to ‘vibrant’ girl mauled to death by shark in front of friends

The parents of a 16-year-old girl mauled to death by a shark in western Australia have paid tribute to their “vibrant and happy” daughter.

Stella Berry was jetskiing with friends in a suburb of Perth on Saturday afternoon when she jumped into the Swan River to swim with a pod of dolphins, police said.

But she was attacked by what is thought to have been a bull shark, and paramedics were unable to save her after she was pulled out of the water with severe leg injuries at around 3:30pm.

It is the first fatal shark attack in the Swan River in 100 years.

Her parents, Matt and Sophie Berry, said they were “devastated and deeply shocked” by the loss of their “beautiful” daughter.

“Stella was a vibrant and happy girl with plans of living in Europe after school,” they said. “She was a caring person and was a dear friend to many, across a variety of schools in the area.

“She had an infectious laugh which we couldn't help laughing at too when we heard it. Our thoughts are with Stella's many friends at this time.

“Stella loved creating art and spending time with her friends, particularly at the river and beach. She had her skipper's ticket and often took friends out on the river for a day of ‘scurfing’.


“She was a beautiful and loving big sister and the best daughter we could have hoped for.”

Stella’s sister said on TikTok that she “would never change a thing about her”, calling her: “The best sister I could ever wish for”, according to the MailOnline.

A number of Stella’s friends gathered at the river bank in North Fremantle on Sunday, according to ABC News, which quoted one of her friends, Lara Conolly, as describing her as the “sweetest and smartest girl that I knew”.

“She never did anything wrong to anybody,” Lara said. “She was so kind. She loved art. I’d ride my bike to see her sometimes and I’d see her running. She wanted to run a marathon.”

Another friend, Teagan McArthur, said Stella’s death “doesn't feel real”, adding: “We were all in contact with her less than 24 hours ago and now she's not here with us”.

Shark attacks in rivers in Australia are very rare. According to the Australian Shark Incident Database, the last time someone was killed in an Australian river was 1960.

Last year saw just one fatal attack nationally, and one of three the year prior occurred at Port Beach in Fremantle – not far from the mouth of Swan River, and around 1km from where Saturday’s attack took place – and involved a great white shark.

Western Australia’s fisheries minister Don Punch said it was too early to confirm the type of shark behind the attack, but that it “was likely” a bull shark.

“We do know that bull sharks, particularly, do enter estuaries and freshwater river systems, so it is likely that may be the case,” he told ABC.