Passenger on cruise ship out of Port Canaveral attacked and killed by shark in the Bahamas

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A woman on a cruise ship that departed from Port Canaveral Sunday was killed by a shark in the Bahamas Tuesday, according to law enforcement authorities.

The incident involved a 58-year-old woman from Pennsylvania and occurred at a popular snorkeling spot near Green Cay in the northern Bahamas, police spokeswoman Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings told The Associated Press. Skippings said the woman’s family identified it as a bull shark.

The attack occurred Tuesday while on an "independent shore excursion" in Nassau, according to Royal Caribbean International.

"Sadly, the guest passed away after arriving at a local hospital for treatment," a Royal Caribbean International representative told FLORIDA TODAY. "Royal Caribbean International is providing support and assistance to the guest’s loved ones at this time."

The ship, Harmony of the Sea, is continuing on its seven-night journey.

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The majority of shark attacks in the Caribbean have occurred in the Bahamas, with two reported in 2019, one of them fatal. That incident involved a Southern California woman who was on vacation and was attacked by three sharks near Rose Island, located just a half mile from where Tuesday’s attacked occurred.

In December 2020, a fatal shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, the first such incident in that region.

Overall, at least 32 shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1749, followed by 13 attacks in Cuba during that time period, including one in 2019, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

Michael Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University in Miami, said that the high number of attacks in the Bahamas is likely linked to the fact that there are a lot of people in the water in that area and that it has a robust marine ecosystem.

He said the Bahamas has a variety of shark species, the majority of which do not pay attention to people, except for bull sharks and tiger sharks.

“They get to very large sizes, and they eat big prey,” Heithaus said, adding that sharks have incredible sensory systems and can be attracted to food, sounds and smells in the water.

But overall, shark attacks remain rare, he stressed.

Worldwide, there were 137 shark attacks last year, 73 of them unprovoked, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Finch Walker contribututed to this report.

Finch Walker is a Breaking News Reporter at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Walker at 321-290-4744 or Twitter: @_finchwalker

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Woman dies after shark attack in the Bahamas Tuesday; was a passenger on Port Canaveral ship