Shark attacks American tourist in Turks and Caicos
A shark attacked a 22-year-old woman from Connecticut while she was diving at a resort in Turks and Caicos on Wednesday, according to a release from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
The woman was diving with a friend around 3pm local time when a shark attacked them, police said. A resort employee then called police for an ambulance, according to the release.
The employee told the police that the victim “was bitten on the leg by a shark”, according to the announcement.
Officers from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, along with an ambulance, arrived at the scene and took the woman to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, where she remains in a serious condition, police said.
Big Blue Collective, an eco-adventure and water sports company in the Turks and Caicos Islands, said in a statement on Thursday, “The calm, quick and measured response by one of our captains and the office team meant that the victim was pulled from ocean and were taken to an ambulance within 15 minutes, saving them from a potentially life-threatening situation.”
The company called the attack, which it said occurred in clear, calm waters, “unfortunate” and “what is known in diving circles as a case of mistaken identity,” according to the statement.
The victim and her friend were on a private trip aboard a private vessel unrelated to one of Big Blue Collective’s excursions at the time of the attack by a suspected Caribbean reef shark, the company said in a statement.
While officials are urging beachgoers to take regular safety precautions ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, shark attacks are extremely rare, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
The number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide decreased last year, which tied 2020 for the fewest reported incidents in 10 years, according to the Florida group. They reported that divers and divers accounted for 9% of shark bite incidents.
University of Florida experts distinguish between unprovoked attacks, which they say provide insight into shark behavior, and those triggered by external circumstances, such as fishing lines thrown into feeding grounds.
Two men in the Florida Keys were bitten by sharks last week while fishing. In one case, a shark bit a fisherman on the leg after it came in and onto the dock where he was fishing, officials said.
In the case of a shark attack, the University of Florida group advises a proactive response. They say that punching a shark in the nose can help temporarily reduce the attack. If the shark bites, they suggest clawing at its eyes and gills.
“You should not act passively if you are under attack, as sharks respect size and strength,” the group wrote.