Three couples in Cuba were bathing in waist-deep water just 10 feet from shore when a 22-year-old man in the group repeatedly cried out, “Get me, a shark is biting me!,” and tragically succumbed to his injuries a short time later.
Shark attacks in Cuba are extremely rare. This one, reportedly the first fatal attack in the country in 60 years, occurred after 11 p.m. Saturday off Guardalavaca Beach near Holguin, according to WPLG in Florida and a Cuban government website.
The group helped get the victim to shore where others helped carry him to the nearby International Health and Tourism Clinic of Guardalavaca. He arrived in hypovolemic shock and in critical condition. Alas, transferring him to a hospital was useless.
“Unfortunately, the young man died within a few minutes, without actually making it to one of our hospitals, as his condition was very serious,” Dr. Enrique Remedios Contis told Ahora.cu. “He had a wide and deep bite from a marine animal on his left thigh that must have affected the femoral artery.”
“We talked to many people there, and with fishermen, and they said they had never heard anything like it before,” journalist Raul Oliva of Radio Banes told Ahora.cu.
The latest data from the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida shows only 11 unprovoked shark attacks have been recorded in Cuba compared to 1,352 in the U.S. The data if from 1580 through January of this year.
However, according to Shark Attack Data, Cuba has suffered 16 fatal shark attacks, with the last one reported on Jan. 1, 1957 off Havana. Since 1956, there have been five non-fatal shark attacks in Cuba, the last two on spearfishermen in January 2009.
The species of shark in the latest attack was unknown, but the bull shark is said to be the most common shark in Cuban waters.
“It is said that in the seas that surround the archipelago there dwell more than 50 species of sharks, the majority of which does not present a danger to man,” Ahora.cu reported. “However, nighttime bathing in the sea is not recommended since these marine predators usually feed at night and at dawn.”
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