A cruise ship passenger from Pennsylvania died Tuesday after being attacked by a shark while snorkeling with her family in the Bahamas, authorities said.
Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings of the Royal Bahamas Police Force said that the woman, a mother in her 50s, was attacked in Green Cay, located off the coast of Nassau.
She explained that the family had arranged for a tour group to take them to a well-known snorkeling spot in Nassau while the ship was in port.
The woman’s relatives then witnessed a shark attacking her and came to her rescue. Skippings stated the mother had been bitten on her “upper extremities.”
Operators from the tour company and family members were able the get the woman into the boat and rushed to the nearest dock, where paramedics reacted and reported no vital signs of life, Skippings said.
The cruise operator said in a statement, “Royal Caribbean is giving support and assistance to the loved ones of the guest during this difficult time.” Harmony of the Seas is now on a seven-night cruise after embarking from Port Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday.
The beach where the attack occured has been closed, authorities stated, and the event is under investigation.
Shark attacks remain relatively rare. According to the International Shark Attack File, the chances of being killed by a shark are still less than 1 in 4 million.
According to the Shark Attack File, there were 73 verified unprovoked shark attacks globally in 2016, with 47 of those occurring in the United States.
It is unknown why sharks attack, however the Florida Museum of Natural History reports that many attacks are “cases of mistaken identity” due to low visibility in the water.
Many of the bites occurred while humans are swimming in or near huge schools of prey fish. When sharks feel threatened, they may bite as a means of self-defense.