A 22-year-old woman from Connecticut had her leg bitten off by a shark while snorkeling with a friend at a national park in Turks and Caicos, island authorities said Thursday.
The woman was at the Bone Yard dive site in Princess Alexandra National Park when she was attacked at about 3:07 p.m. on Wednesday, the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources said in a statement.
Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force who responded to the scene to find “the female victim had her leg bitten off by a shark,” according to a statement posted to its website.
The woman was taken to the Cheshire Hall Medical Centre, where she was in serious condition, police said.
She was not identified, nor was her hometown in Connecticut disclosed.
The attack is under investigation by police, according to the islands’ Department of Environmental & Coastal Resources.
The incident occurred in a portion of Princess Alexandra National Park that is a marine protected area in Turks and Caicos, an archipelago nation located south of the Bahamas.
“Though incidents such as these are highly unusual in the Turks & Caicos Islands, swimmers, snorkelers and divers and boat operators are reminded to exercise caution on the water,” the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources said.
“We remain committed to ensuring the safety of both our visitors and our treasured marine life,” the department added.
In a separate statement, Big Blue Collective, a tour boat agency, said the incident was “extremely rare and unfortunate.”
The two snorkelers were on a private trip outside the reef when the reef shark attacked, the statement said.
“Only two individuals were in the water, which was clear and calm, when a presumed Caribbean Reef Shark left one snorkeler with an injury due to what is known in diving circles as a case of mistaken identity,” Big Blue Collective said.
The organization’s captains and office team got the woman out of the water and into an ambulance in 15-minutes, according to the statement.
“We applaud all the efforts of our team, the paramedics, and the emergency first aid responders,” Big Blue Collective said. “Our thoughts are with the victim, their family and loved ones at this time.”
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.
Adam Sennott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.