A 58-year-old Pennsylvania woman was killed in a shark attack while snorkeling in the Bahamas.
The woman was attacked Tuesday in Green Cay, northwest of Rose Island off the coast of Nassau, Royal Bahamas Police Force Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told CNN.
She had been a passenger on the Royal Caribbean ship Harmony of the Seas. The ship had docked in Nassau and the woman and her family had booked a private excursion to the popular snorkeling region, officials said.
“It’s unfortunate,” Skippings told the Associated Press.
Reports say about a half dozen family members were on the excursion when they saw the woman attacked by a bull shark. Operators of the tour company and family members were able to pull the victim aboard the boat, where paramedics arrived and were not able to find any vital signs, Skippings said.
She was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.
The woman had suffered bites to her “upper extremities,” Skippings said.
The beach where the attack took place has been closed while officials investigate.
“Royal Caribbean is providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones during this difficult time,” the cruise line said in a statement.
The family, from the Lake Erie region of Pennsylvania, was part of a seven-night cruise on Harmony of the Seas that left from Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday.
Shark Attacks In The Bahamas
Shark attacks are extremely rare, with 32 reported in the Bahamas since 1749. Even with that small amount, the Bahamas is one of the more common locations for sharks to be spotted.
Michael Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University, told the Associated Press that the Bahamas has a robust marine ecosystem and there are quite often a lot of people in the water.
While most shark species ignore humans, bull sharks are an exception. Bull sharks are attracted to food, sounds, and smells in the water, he said.
“They get to very large sizes, and they eat big prey,” Heithaus said.
According to the International Shark Attack File, there were 137 shark attacks worldwide last year, a little more than half of them unprovoked.
Many of the attacks happen when humans are around large schools of fish, officials said. They can also attack when they feel threatened.
The last known fatal shark attack in the Bahamas was in 2019. There was also a fatal attack in 2020 in nearby St. Martin.