A shark attacked a 22-year-old woman from Connecticut while she was snorkeling at a Turks and Caicos resort on Wednesday, according to a release from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
The woman was snorkeling with a friend around 3 p.m. local time when a shark attacked them, police said. A resort employee then called police for an ambulance, according to the release.
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The employee told police the victim “had his leg bitten by a shark,” the release said.
Officers from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, along with an ambulance, arrived at the scene and took the woman to Cheshire Hall Medical Center, where she remains in serious condition, police said.
While officials encourage beachgoers to take regular safety precautions ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, shark attacks are extremely rare, according to the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File.
The number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide fell last year, tying 2020 for the fewest reported incidents in 10 years, according to the Florida group. They reported that snorkelers and divers accounted for 9% of shark bite incidents.
University of Florida experts distinguish between unprovoked attacks, which they say provide insight into shark behavior, and those prompted by external circumstances, such as fishing lines thrown into feeding areas.
Two men in the Florida Keys were bitten by sharks last week while fishing. In one case, a shark bit an angler in the foot after it was reeled in and onto the dock where he was fishing, officials said.
In the event of a shark attack, the University of Florida group recommends a proactive response. They say punching a shark on the nose can help temporarily limit the attack. If the shark bites, they suggest scratching its eyes and gill openings.
“You should not act passively if you are under attack, as sharks respect size and power,” the group writes.