A cruise ship passenger has sadly been killed by a bull shark while snorkeling in The Bahamas. The passenger, a guest from Royal Caribbean International’s Harmony of the Seas, was participating in an independent excursion when the incident occurred, and succumbed to upper body injuries.
Cruise Passenger Dies in the Bahamas
The attack happened near Green Cay, approximately 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) east-northeast of Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas.
Harmony of the Seas was visiting Nassau on New Providence Island from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. The 58-year-old woman and her traveling party booked an independent snorkeling excursion through the Seas the Day tour company – not booked through the cruise line – that took them to Green Cay.
“The family was reportedly snorkeling in waters and that area is known for visitors to snorkel,” Royal Bahamas police chief Chrislyn Skippings said in a news conference. “It is further reported that family members observed a bull shark attacking the female.”
Tour employees and family members rescued the woman and quickly returned to New Providence Island for emergency medical care, but the woman was pronounced dead.
The victim was a resident of Pennsylvania. To preserve the family’s privacy, her name has not been released.
“Royal Caribbean International is providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones at this time,” a spokesperson from the cruise line stated.
The area of the attack has now been closed to visitors indefinitely, and authorities have not said when or if the area may reopen. Shark attacks have been noted in the same area previously, including a fatal incident in 2019 when a 21-year-old woman from California was killed. That incident did not involve cruise ship guests.
Shore Tour Safety
It must be noted that any wildlife interactions can be unpredictable, and such an incident could occur whether on an independent tour or when booked through the cruise line. Shark attacks, however, are exceedingly rare considering the popularity of snorkeling excursions and other watersports.
Tour operators typically scout suitable snorkeling locations before arriving with guests, to ensure safe water conditions, but bull sharks can swim as quickly as 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour), and could easily enter a snorkeling area at any time.
When snorkeling, it is best to not overestimate one’s swimming abilities, and to always remain with a group and close to the boat if possible, in case of any emergency situation.
About Bull Sharks
The bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) is found worldwide, most often in shallow, warm, coastal waters. Measuring an average of up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) long and weighing as much as 290 pounds (131 kilograms), the shark is known for its aggressive nature. They are a highly territorial species with little tolerance for being disturbed.
This makes bull sharks more likely to bite humans, and because of this, they are considered one of the most dangerous shark species.
While exact numbers of bull shark attacks are unknown due to the lack of positive shark identification in many cases, bull sharks have been responsible for several fatalities off the Atlantic coast of Florida, as well as in Virginia, Hawaii, and Texas.
Bull sharks are also tolerant of fresh water and are frequently sighted in larger freshwater rivers, but interactions with humans are rare in freshwater areas.
No Cruise Ship Delay
There have been no delays reported to Harmony of the Seas‘ schedule, and the ship has continued on its 7-night Western Caribbean sailing.
The Oasis-class vessel departed Port Canaveral on Sunday, September 4, and visited the cruise line’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay, on Monday before visiting Nassau on Tuesday.
Wednesday is a day at sea, followed by port visits to Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee, Haiti on Thursday and Friday, respectively. After another day at sea, the ship will return to Port Canaveral on Sunday, September 11.
Harmony of the Seas can host as many as 5,479 guests at double occupancy, and up to 6,687 passengers when fully booked.
Cruise Hive’s deepest condolences are with the victim’s family members and loved ones at this difficult time.