Shark attacks in the Bahamas are “extremely rare” a marine biologist told ABC News, as the family of the American woman who died in an attack Wednesday waits to find out when her body will be returned to the U.S.
Jordan Lindsey, 21, of Torrance, California, was swimming in waters near Rose Island when she was bitten by multiple sharks, local police said in a statement Wednesday. Investigators said they believe that three sharks were involved in the attack, which was deemed an “extremely rare” and “deeply tragic event” by expert Dr. Austin Gallagher, chief scientist and CEO of Beneath the Waves, a nonprofit organization that conducts research on sharks in the Bahamas.
“Shark attacks like this are extremely rare, especially in the Bahamas,” Austin told ABC News. “Every year hundreds of thousands of people enter the waters in the Bahamas — many of them even wanting to see sharks — and there are very few, if any, incidents. The Bahamas is not a shark attack hot-spot, nor are shark attacks on the rise — this appears to be an unfortunate and rare event.”
Authorities have now issued cautions to people in the area, but beyond that, “there is little else we can realistically do,” Austin said. Sharks are protected by the government in Bahamas, and are crucial to the local economy, he added.
“Killing sharks has never been part of Bahamian culture,” he said. “I would hope this does not change in response to incidents like this, as it is ecologically and socially irresponsible, and would tarnish the reputation the Bahamas has as a leader in ocean conservation.”
“My sincere condolences go out to the victim’s family.” Gallagher said.
Lindsey was snorkeling in near Rose Island on at the time of the attack, which happened “so fast,” her father Michael Lindsey said.
“My wife got to Jordan and pulled Jordan to shore by herself,” he said. “The medical staff said they still had to do an autopsy. My wife said no one told her there were three sharks.
Lindsey’s right arm was torn off and she suffered bites to her left arm, both legs and buttocks, police said. She was transported to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“It’s pretty rare, because sharks don’t really have any interest in humans,” Andre Musgrove, a shark diving expert, told ABC News’ Victor Oquendo in the Bahamas. “But they are wild animals so anything can be expected. It is pretty strange for three sharks to be involved in an attack like this, so I think more details are needed.”
The family’s vacation was due to end on Friday.
On Wednesday night two people from the U.S. consulate told the family it may take 7-14 days to get Lindsey’s body back home to California, her father told ABC News. The family is hoping to learn more information later today, but they’re currently unsure where they’ll be staying in the Bahamas.
Lindsey was a student at Loyola Marymount University.
“I am saddened to share that Jordan Lindsey, a communication studies major, died on June 26, 2019. She was 21 years old,” university officials said in a letter to students. “Jordan was snorkeling with her family and friends in the Bahamas when she was attacked by sharks. Efforts were made to save her life, but she was pronounced dead at a hospital.”