SINT MAARTEN/TURKS & CAICOS – A 22-year-old female American tourist from Connecticut on Wednesday severed her leg during a shark attack while snorkeling in the Turks & Caicos Islands with a friend.
The attack took place Wednesday afternoon at the Bone Yard dive site in Princess Alexandra National Park, a marine protected area. Thereafter, police and ambulance services were alerted and rushed the victim to Hospital in serious condition.
On Friday, the women were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. There was no update on her condition.
The shark attack has been described by officials as a case of mistaken identity. It is presumed by a water sports activity company and other officials that the attack may have been caused by a reef shark who mistaken the woman for an animal it usually hunts as prey.
There have been four shark attacks prior to this one in the Turks and Caicos where all victims survived.
In September 2021, a male tourist was bitten on the wrist by a seven-foot lemon or tiger shark in shallow water near the Bright Reef snorkeling site.
In 2011, a 28-year-old snorkeler was struck by an unknown type of shark in the Middle Caicos where he received a laceration to his shoulder. The victim received 18 stitches and the tooth mark suggests it was a shark measuring up to six feet.
There was another incident in 2011 where a 35-year-old spearfisherman received a bite from a five-foot shark to his lower right leg.
In 2002 near French Cay in the southern Caicos Banks, a group of photographers were on-board a live-abord boat and were snorkeling. A 41-year-old tourist was bitten in the shoulder and upper arm by an up to seven-foot fray reef shark. The woman was rushed to the hospital and airlifted to Miami for further medical care.
The Bahamas has seen the most shark attacks with 35 since 1896. The last fatal shark attack in The Bahamas was a U.S. cruise ship passenger who was snorkeling in September 2022. The 58-year-old woman from Pennsylvania was snorkeling at a popular spot near Green Cay when she was attacked by a bull shark.
In 2019, there were two shark attacks in The Bahamas, and one was fatal. A southern California woman who was on vacation was attacked by three sharks near Rose Island, which is half a mile from where the 58-year-old woman was attacked.