Shark kills US cruise passenger snorkelling in Bahamas

Woman was attacked at popular snorkelling spot during shore excursion from 'Harmony of the Seas' vessel

A bull sharks swims near the Florida coast. The family of a woman killed in the Bahamas said a bull shark was responsible for her death. AFP
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A shark killed a US cruise ship passenger who was snorkelling in the Bahamas on Tuesday, authorities said.

The woman, 58, from Pennsylvania was attacked at a popular snorkelling spot near Green Cay in the northern Bahamas, police spokeswoman Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told AP.

Her family said a bull shark was responsible for the attack, she said.

Royal Caribbean International said the person died after arriving at a hospital for treatment.

The guest had been participating in an independent shore excursion in Nassau and had been sailing on Harmony of the Seas, which is on a seven-night trip after departing Florida on Sunday.

The majority of shark attacks in the Caribbean have occurred in the Bahamas, with two reported in 2019, one of them fatal.

That incident involved a woman from California who was attacked by three sharks near Rose Island, about 800 metres from where Tuesday’s attacked occurred.

In December 2020, a fatal shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St Martin, the first such incident in that region.

At least 32 shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1749, followed by 13 attacks in Cuba during that time, including one in 2019, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

Michael Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University in Miami, told AP that the high number of attacks in the Bahamas could be linked to the fact that there were a lot of people in the water in that area and that it has a robust marine ecosystem.

The Bahamas has a variety of shark species, the majority of which do not pay attention to people, except for bull sharks and tiger sharks, he said.

“They get to very large sizes and they eat big prey,” Mr Heithaus said.

Sharks have incredible sensory systems and can be attracted to food, sounds and smells in the water, he said.

However, shark attacks remain rare, he said.

Worldwide, there were 137 shark attacks last year, 73 of them unprovoked, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Updated: September 07, 2022, 6:06 AM