US citizen 'seriously injured' after shark attack in Turks and Caicos

Experts note that most shark attacks are case of mistaken identity, like a shark mistaking human for seal or prey

By
Web Desk
A representational image of a shark. — Unsplash/File
A representational image of a shark. — Unsplash/File

A 22-year-old woman is reported to have been in critical condition after coming under attack from a shark while snorkelling in Turks and Caicos, according to the police Wednesday.

In an official statement released on social media, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said that an unidentified woman, 22, was from Connecticut, US.

Additional details from the police suggest that she and her friend were snorkelling on Providenciales, the third-largest island in the country, in an area near the Blue Haven Resort.

The resort told CBS News the woman was "staying at another resort, on another boat, nowhere near our resort or marina."

It remains unclear how the woman and her friend escaped the shark and returned to the shore but the police said that a resort employee called the police around 3:07pm local time to request an ambulance.

"The employee indicated that the female victim had her leg bitten off by a shark," police said.

The injured US citizen was taken to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, also on Providenciales, where she remains in what police described as a "serious condition".

This image shows bull sharks in the waters of Fiji. — AFP/File
This image shows bull sharks in the waters of Fiji. — AFP/File

According to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File, shark attacks are rare, recording only 57 unprovoked shark bites in the world in 2022, of which five of them proved fatal. 

Experts noted that most shark attacks are a case of mistaken identity, like a shark mistaking a human for a seal or other prey.

In a safety recommendation, experts suggested people stay close to shore and swim with someone, be careful when swimming on a sandbar or dropoff, be careful not to wear shiny jewellery or high-contrast clothing, which can tempt sharks, and avoid swimming with open wounds or injuries.

They further suggested that the swimmers should not go near fishing activities where sharks are drawn and avoid murky or cloudy waters, which can disguise an approaching shark.

In case of seeing a shark, it is suggested to move slowly and calmly toward the shore. 

Turks and Caicos Islands are the overseas territories of the UK in the West Indies consisting of two groups of islands on the southeastern periphery of the Bahamas.