A local man was rushed to hospital after being bitten by a shark at Elche's Arenales del Sol beach in Costa Blanca on the morning of Friday 29 July. The 40-year-old received attention for a serious bite wound to the hand, according to medical teams, who said he was covered in blood after coming out of the sea. "It was a serious bite," a spokesman at the DYA ambulance service told local media, confirming that the man was taken to hospital for stitches.

A blue shark known locally as a tintorera has been blamed for the attack, which is said to rarely bite humans. They typically grow to between 1.8 and 3.4 metres and usually prey on squid and small fish and do not normally target humans.

After the incident, the red flag was raised for about two hours until 1.30pm when swimmers were given the all clear to go back into the water.

Only four attacks by the blue shark have ended fatally, out of 13 biting incidents. Almost all unprovoked shark attacks were on divers who were spearfishing and had attached dead fish to their wet suits.

60 cases of shark attacks on people or against boats (including canoes) have been registered with the MEDAF in the Mediterranean since 1899, according to Shark Info.

There are around 46 different species of sharks in the Mediterranean, with 16 of them more than 3 metres in length, with 15 of them being potentially dangerous species.

In Gran Canaria, a tourist was bitten off the coast of popular tourist destination Gran Canaria in December. Cristina Ojeda-Thies tweeted after the incident: "Today I've had a face to face meeting with a shark. Things that happen when you swim in the Canaries in December."

Fernando Frias, President of the Canary Islands Shark Alliance which is dedicated to shark conservation, called it a "one-off".

He added: "I doubt something like this will happen again in the next 50 years so people shouldn't be afraid."