A woman from Boston was killed on Monday after being attacked by a shark while paddleboarding in the Bahamas. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was paddleboarding with a male relative approximately three-quarters of a mile from shore when the fatal encounter occurred.
According to Royal Bahamas Police Force spokesperson Sergeant Desiree Ferguson, a lifeguard who witnessed the attack went into the water to rescue the pair. The woman suffered severe injuries to her right hip and leg from the shark bite. Despite CPR efforts from first responders, the victim showed no vital signs and was declared dead on site from her traumatic injuries.
Monday’s tragedy comes on the heels of several recent shark attacks in the popular tropical destination. Just one day prior, a 26-year-old woman lost her life due to a shark attack in Mexico. Last month, a 47-year-old German woman went missing during a Bahamas diving expedition after encountering a shark. In June, a woman from Iowa had her leg amputated as a result of a shark bite while scuba diving.
The most recent fatal Bahamas shark attack prior to Monday’s occurred in September 2022, when a 58-year-old American tourist was killed by a bull shark near Green Cay. She was snorkeling as part of a cruise line excursion. The victim was brought to a local hospital but did not survive.
Factors In Recent Increased Shark Attacks
Marine biologists have cited several factors that may be contributing to the apparent surge in shark attacks in the Caribbean region:
- Improved medical care leading to higher survival of shark bite victims
- Growing tourism increasing likelihood of human-shark interactions
- Overfishing decreasing available food supply for native shark species
- Climate change and habitat destruction impacting ecosystem dynamics
While shark attacks remain extremely rare overall, certain tips can reduce your chances of encountering one of these apex predators while enjoying Bahamas beaches and waters:
- Avoid swimming near dawn/dusk when sharks are most actively feeding
- Do not enter waters with bleeding wounds or during menstruation
- Refrain from wearing high-contrast clothing or shiny jewelry
- Pay attention to posted beach warnings or sightings from authorities
Tragedy Highlights Unpredictability Of Open Water Swimming
This heartbreaking loss of life highlights the inherent unpredictability of open water swimming and ocean activities. Paddleboarding is considered a relatively low-risk water sport, but the remoteness from shore likely complicated rescue efforts. Sergeant Ferguson emphasized that the victim was approximately half a mile from the beach when the shark attack transpired.
While the species of shark has not been confirmed, bull sharks and tiger sharks frequent the warm Atlantic waters and have been responsible for prior bites in the region. But according to NOAA, over 50 varieties of sharks populate the Caribbean and eastern US coastline. This diverse population makes risk analysis challenging for beach safety authorities.
As shocking as the occurrence is, local public safety officials urge tourists not to live in fear and to continue enjoying Bahamas shoreline activities while following recommended precautions. Above all, this tragedy underscores the absolute unpredictability of Mother Nature – in and out of the water.