US tourist from Boston killed in shark attack in Bahamas, police say

A scuba diver observes a reef shark, July 14, 2019, Tiger Beach, Bahamas. (Andre Seale/VW Pics/Zuma Press/TNS)

A scuba diver observes a reef shark, July 14, 2019, Tiger Beach, Bahamas. (Andre Seale/VW Pics/Zuma Press/TNS) Andre Seale/VW Pics

By DÁNICA COTO

Associated Press

Published: 12-05-2023 3:07 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A female tourist from Boston was killed Monday by a shark while paddleboarding in the Bahamas, police told reporters.

The victim, who was not identified, was attacked less than a mile off the western end of New Providence island, where the capital, Nassau, is located. She was paddleboarding with a man who was not injured, according to Police Sgt. Desiree Ferguson.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences … for this most unfortunate situation,” she said.

Police said a lifeguard rescued both people with a boat upon seeing what was happening, but the woman suffered serious injuries to the right side of her body and was declared dead at the scene despite CPR efforts.

It was not immediately clear what type of shark attacked the woman. A police superintendent did not immediately respond to a message requesting comment.

Gavin Naylor, program director of the International Shark Attack File in Florida, said in an interview that there have been a couple of shark-related fatalities reported in the Bahamas in the past five years.

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He noted that the Bahamas has a “huge” tourist population, adding that there are a lot of people in the water and a lot of visitors who want to view sharks from a fishing boat or dive with them.

“So the sharks get acclimated, and the animals are a little bit less cautious than they otherwise might be,” he said.

Between 30 to 40 shark species live around the Bahamas, although the Caribbean reef shark, the bull shark, the tiger shark and the black tip shark have the highest bite frequency, Naylor said.

“Usually, it’s an accidental bite. They think it’s something else,” he said. “Once in a while, they’ll actually single out people, and it’s very intentional.”

Fatal shark attacks are rare, with only an average of five to six reported worldwide a year, most of them occurring in Australia, Naylor said. Last year, there were a total of 57 unprovoked bites around the globe, the majority of them in the U.S., according to the International Shark Attack File.

At least 33 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1580, with the island ranking ninth worldwide, according to the file.

The Nassau Guardian newspaper reported that authorities in the Bahamas are still searching for a German woman who went missing late last month after she was apparently attacked while diving.

Last year, a shark killed a U.S. cruise ship passenger from Pennsylvania who was snorkeling in the northern Bahamas near Green Cay.

Most shark attacks in the Caribbean occur in the Bahamas, although a rare shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin three years ago.