An American cruise ship passenger was killed by a shark while snorkeling in the Bahamas. According to the Royal Bahamas Police Force, 58-year-old Caroline DiPlacido, of Pennsylvania, was attacked by a bull shark while on an excursion with her family.
DiPlacido and her family were snorkeling with a local tour company near Green Cay in Nassau when the attacked happened. Those in the area saw the 58-year-old in distress and pulled her from the water, noting injuries to her “upper extremities.” She was immediately taken to shore, where she was declared deceased.
The cruise ship she was on, the Harmony of the Seas, was docked in Nassau at the time and had just recently begun a seven-night trip of the western Caribbean. The vessel left Florida‘s Port Canaveral on September 4, 2022.
Speaking in a statement, cruise operator Royal Caribbean International said it was “providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones during this difficult time.” This was followed by one from DiPlacido’s employer, Gannon University. She worked as a project coordinator for the school’s Office of Community and Government Relations.
“Caroline was a powerful presence of kindness and friendship to colleagues, students, and the wider community and cherished many family ties to Gannon,” the statement read. “The news is devastating, and she will be missed.”
The beach where the attack occurred has been closed off, pending an investigation. The incident brings to mind a similar one from 2019, when a 21-year-old California woman was attacked by a shark just a half mile away.
While the attack has caught widespread attention, officials with the International Shark Attack File have shared that only 32 shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1749. As well, only 73 confirmed attacks occurred worldwide in 2021, of which nine resulted in death.
Bull sharks are more likely than other shark species to attack humans unprovoked. Known for their aggression, they average between seven and 11.5 feet in length, and can weigh anywhere from 200 to 500 pounds. They typically eat dolphins, turtles, fish and other sharks.
It’s unclear why sharks attack humans. Many experts believe the majority of incidents are the result of “mistaken identity” caused by poor water visibility, as the majority of bites occur when humans are swimming near large schools of fish. Sharks are also known to attack when they feel threatened and are trying to defend themselves.