A 58-year-old woman was attacked and killed by a shark while snorkeling on a cruise vacation in the Bahamas. The woman, whose name was not released, was snorkeling off the coast of Nassau in Green Cay when she was attacked by a bull shark.
NBC News reported that the woman was a passenger on the Royal Caribbean ship Harmony of the Seas and was traveling with her family, who had planned to snorkel at a popular spot in the area, according to Royal Bahamas Police Force Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings.
CNN reported that eyewitnesses said they saw a shark attacking the woman and immediately went to help. By the time they got to her, the woman had suffered bites to her “upper extremities,” Skippings said.
Tour company workers and family members pulled the woman out of the water and rushed to the nearest dock, where paramedics began to treat her. The paramedics reported no vital signs of life as they got her to shore, brought her to the hospital and began to treat her, according to The Associated Press.
The cruise line made a statement after the attack, saying, “Royal Caribbean is providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones during this difficult time.”
The Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida reported that bull sharks are the most commonly known sharks to make unprovoked attacks on humans. The last recorded shark attacks in the Bahamas were two separate attacks reported in 2019 where one was attacked by Rose Island that is about a half mile from Green Cay.
Michael Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University in Miami, said in an Associated Press phone interview that the high number of attacks in this region is linked to a high number of people in a “robust marine ecosystem.”
Heithaus explained that there are many different types of sharks that swim in those waters, but only the bull and tiger sharks really pay attention to people.
“They get to very large sizes and they eat big prey,” Heithaus said.
Heithaus also added that bull and tiger sharks are more likely to be attracted toward people through different factors including smells in the water, food and even sounds. Despite these factors, Heithaus also emphasized that shark attacks are rare.
According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 73 unprovoked shark attacks out of a total of 137 attacks last year.