Shark Attacks in the Caribbean

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Some of the potentially dangerous sharks found in the Caribbean

Bahamas: 74 unprovoked shark attacks, with 67 non-fatal attacks and seven.
Cuba : 28 unprovoked shark attacks, with 12 non-fatal attacks and 16 fatal attacks.
Jamaica: 18 unprovoked shark attacks, with eight non-fatal attacks and 10 fatal attacks.
Bermuda: seven unprovoked shark attacks, with six non-fatal attacks and one fatal attack.
Barbados: four unprovoked shark attacks, with two non-fatal attacks and two fatal attacks.
Dominican Republic: four unprovoked shark attacks, with two non-fatal attacks and two fatal attacks.
Grenada: four unprovoked shark attacks, with one non-fatal attack and three fatal attacks.
[Source: Global Shark Attack File (GSAF), compiled by the Shark Research Institute,, 2016]

Turks and Caicos Islands: four unprovoked shark attacks, with three non-fatal attacks and one fatal attack.
Honduras: two unprovoked shark attacks, with zero non-fatal attacks and two fatal attacks.
Haiti: two unprovoked shark attacks, with one non-fatal attack and one fatal attack.
Belize: two unprovoked shark attacks, with one non-fatal attack and one fatal attack.
Aruba: one unprovoked shark attack, with zero non-fatal attacks and one fatal attack.
Curacao: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.

Saint Martin: unprovoked shark attacks, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Martinique: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Trinidad and Tobago: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Guyana: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Puerto Rico: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Cayman Islands: one unprovoked shark attack,with Non-fatal and unprovoked one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Netherlands Antilles: one unprovoked shark attack, with one non-fatal attack and zero fatal attacks.
Nevis: zero unprovoked shark attacks.
Antigua and Barbuda: zero unprovoked shark attacks.
Guatemala: zero unprovoked shark attacks.
Virgin Islands: zero unprovoked shark attacks.

Caribbean Shark Attacks

Between 2000 and 2019, there were 34 unprovoked shark bites in the Caribbean region, four of which have been fatal, he said. The majority of shark attacks in the Caribbean have occurred in the Bahamas, with two reported in 2019, one of them fatal. A shark attack also was reported in Cuba in 2019, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File. [Source: Dánica Coto, Associated Press, December 11, 2020]

The most common shark species around the Caribbean islands are reef sharks and nurse sharks, which usually don't pose much of a a risk Tiger sharks and bull sharks occasionally appear. Florida Shark researcher Director Gavin Naylor told the AP that most attacks in the Caribbean occur in the Bahamas because of its massive tourism. “We see a very strong correlation between shark bites and the number of people in the water,” he said.

In March 2013, an Ohio State student on spring break was bitten by shark during a snorkeling trip in Belize and said that people there told her to keep quiet about the incident. The Lantern reported: This happened in Belize but I'll bet that even in the US efforts are made to quiet shark attacks. Ain't gonna happen, though. [Source: The Lantern, March 20, 2013]

Monika Wanis, a fourth-year in anthropology and psychology, said a shark bit her on her toe during a trip to Belize with Buck-I-Serv to give out shoes with an organization called One World Running. She’s recovering from the incident, but she said she believes officials from Buck-I-Serv are more concerned with protecting their name and reputation than they are about her well-being. “In the email that they sent me, basically the first sentence said, ‘How are you feeling, I hope you got medical care,’ and then the remainder of the email said, ‘I hope you consider posting positive things on Facebook about One World Running and Buck-I-Serv because they do not want bad publicity and press.’

See Tiger Sharks and Bull Sharks

Shark Attacks in the Bahamas

Sites of Shark attacks in the Bahamas

2012 — 0 — 0 — 0
2013 — 0 — 0 — 0
2014 — 0 — 0 — 0
2015 — 1 — 0 — 1
2016 — 1 — 0 — 1
2017 — 2 — 0 — 2
2018 — 1 — 0 — 1
2020 — 0 — 0 — 0
2021 — 0 — 0 — 0
TOTAL — 5 — 0 — 5
[Source: Shark Files, Florida Museum of Natural History]

In August 2001, a Wall Street banker had to have his leg amputated after being attacked by a shark during a weekend trip to the Bahamas. The victim, 36-year-old Krishna Thompson, became critically ill and lost so much blood that doctors feared he suffered brain damage. No one knows what breed of shark attacked but doctors told his wife that the bite marks indicated that it was a large one. [Source: Las Vegas Sun]

Thompson, who was celebrating his tenth wedding anniversary, left his wife in bed while he headed for the beach in the Grand Bahama resort of Our Lucaya in Freeport. As he swam he felt the shark bite him and try to pull him under. He punched and kicked his way free and, bleeding badly from his mauled leg, dragged himself ashore and collapsed in front of bystanders who were struggling to help him. Before he lost consciousness he scrawled his room number in the sand with his finger. His wife, Ave Maria, said: “He knew that was the only way they were going to find me in time.”

“He was just swimming off the beach when a shark grabbed his leg and started pulling him down, Ave Maria Thompson, said. “He kept punching and punching. He has cuts on his hands because of that.” After being given a blood transfusion at a local hospital he was flown to Miami, where surgeons amputated his left leg just above the knee.

A few weeks later a shark bit the leg of an American man who was snorkeling with his wife near Grand Bahama. The man was treated for injuries to his left leg at Rand Memorial Hospital. His leg was not severed.

Woman Ripped Apart by Sharks in the Bahamas

In June 2019. Jordan Lindsey, 21, of Torrance, Calif., was killed in an unusual, three-shark attack in the Bahamas A biologist says there was likely a trigger that caused the sharks to attack the college student while she was snorkeling and scientists say it is not normal shark behavior.

Good Morning America reported: It was on the third day of a family vacation when they decided to take a last-minute excursion through the Sandy Toes Tour Company to Rose Island — a spot famous for snorkeling and for petting swimming pigs. "I wish they didn't let us on, of course, but they — they snuck us on," Jordan's father, Michael Lindsey, told "GMA." "Myself, my two boys, and Jordan's girlfriend, Gianna, were on another part of the island, just swimming on the beach side," he recalled. "My wife, Kami, and Jordan went snorkeling on another part of the island. My wife was near Jordan, a few feet away." [Source: Good Morning America, August 7, 2019]

It was then that a school of sharks suddenly pounced on Jordan. "Kami said she heard Jordan yell like, 'Mom,' like, and then she — Kami — looked back, and the first thing was, she thought dolphins were around Jordan," Lindsey continued. "And then she ... then she realized, like, right away that, like, Jordan, was screaming." Kami swam toward Jordan as fast as she could. Jordan's right arm was torn off in the attack, and she suffered bites to her left arm, both legs and buttocks, authorities said.

Kami attempted to pull Jordan to safety, but then another shark attacked her. "And then," Lindsey said, "Jordan said, 'Mom, there's another shark coming!' And then the second shark hit her. The second shark hit again, like, on her lower leg. And then that's the last thing … Jordan said." After a brutal struggle to get Jordan out of the water that included hitting the shark, Jordan was pulled onto a nearby island where they waited for a boat to take them to shore for medical assistance.

Jordan was losing consciousness, barely clinging to life, when the boat finally arrived — with no medical supplies. "They put towels over her leg … there was no first aid kit," her father told "GMA." The boat rushed Jordan to a dock where an ambulance was waiting for her, but by the time Lindsey got the hospital, he was too late. "I walked in," he recalled, "and they said, 'Your daughter's gone.'"

The family hasn't been the same since Jordan's tragic death. "Kami, of course, had the worst, like, 10 times the worst thing," Lindsey continued. "She has her daughter die in her arms on a trip. I mean, we cry every night still. And — Kami has — like, she doesn't like the nights. Because … when she closes her eyes, she's back in that water again. She's seen all the blood. She seen her poor daughter die in her arms."

Fatal Shark Attack in St. Martin: First in Recent History

In December 2020, a fatal shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, shocking many in the eastern Caribbean region where reports of such attacks are extremely rare. Government spokesman Alain Rioual confirmed the attack and said it's the first time in the territory's recent history that a fatal attack occurred. reported. [Source: Dánica Coto, Associated Press, December 11, 2020]

Associated Press reported: “The attack occurred in Orient Bay, a popular beach located in the northeast part of the island that St. Martin shares with the Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten. No details on the person's identity or nationality were immediately released, although local media reported the victim was an unidentified woman in her 40s. There's only been one unprovoked and non-fatal bite reported in St. Martin, and it occurred in 2005, Tyler Bowling, manager of Florida Program for Shark Research, told the AP.

Naylor told the AP that he was surprised about the attack. “It's pretty unusual in that part of the world,” he said. While no details have been released, Naylor said such attacks are usually tied to mitigating circumstances including spearfishing or chumming, adding that 95 percent of shark attacks are accidental.

Shark Attacks in the Turks and Caicos Islands

In May 2023, a Connecticut woman had one of her feet bitten off by a shark in a rare attack in the Turks and Caicos islands. USA Today reported: The woman, 22, had been snorkeling with a friend off the coast when the shark attacked her near the Blue Haven Resort on the island of Providenciales, part of Turks and Caicos. An employee of the resort called for an ambulance around 3 p.m. and during the call, they indicated the "victim had her leg bitten off by a shark," law enforcement said on Instagram. The woman was transported to Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales. The victim had just graduated from Yale and was in the islands celebrating. [Source: Claire Thornton, USA TODAY, May 26, 2023]

On September 3rd, 2021, a man visitor was reportedly bitten on the wrist by a seven-foot (2.1 meter) lemon shark or tiger shark in shallow water near the Bight Reef (Coral Gardens) snorkeling site. The shark was afterward filmed swimming east in the shallow water directly off Grace Bay Beach. [Source: Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism Office]

In what was definitely a case of mistaken identity, a snorkeler was struck by an unknown type of shark off of Dragon Cay at Mudjin Harbour, Middle Caicos. This attack occurred close to the rocks, where breaking waves and bubbles in the water reduced visibility to about a foot. The victim, a 28-year-old male visitor, was snorkeling in shallow water quite close to the rock and received a quick strike and laceration to his shoulder. The tooth pattern suggests that the shark was about 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 1.9 meters) and may have been a gray reef shark, but it’s certainly not definite. The victim received local medical attention and 18 stitches.

The 2011 Caicos Banks Spearfishing Attack happened between Providenciales and French Cay. A local 35-year-old fisherman was spearfishing (which is illegal in the Turks and Caicos, and which results in blood in the water and thrashing fish) in the relatively shallow waters of the Caicos Banks. It’s not clear, but the fisherman may have had an intention of spearing a shark. At any rate, he received a bite from a 5-foot shark (1.5 m) to his lower right leg. He was treated locally.

The best-known attack took place off of the isolated French Cay in the southern Caicos Banks in 2002. A group of experienced dive photographers from a large regional live-aboard boat was snorkeling after the morning’s first dive.

The victim, a 41-year-old female visitor, was in the water taking photos. She was approached quite closely by a 6-7 foot (2 m) gray reef shark, which brushed against her. As the shark began to turn away, it made a quick strike to the victim's shoulder and upper arm. This resulted in a very serious injury and critical blood loss. Fortunately for the victim, a surgeon, physician and ICU nurse were part of the dive group, and they had a decent selection of medical equipment and supplies. They were able to stop most of the bleeding in time. After being transported by a Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force vessel to Providenciales, the victim was airlifted to Florida for emergency surgery.

Image Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: Shark Files, Florida Museum of Natural History, Global Shark Attack File (GSAF), National Geographic, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Natural History magazine, Discover magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides and various books and other publications.

Last updated March 2023

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