Shark bites man

A 45 year old British man was bitten in the foot by a shark earlier this week.  Bones were broken and ligaments cut.  The incident took place at the Santa Fe island visitor site, accessible to both cruise ship and land based visitors.   

According to newspaper articles, the man was swimming near sea lions along a rocky shore and felt a tug on his foot.  He turned to see the shark, and punched it repeatedly before it released its hold and swam away.  The man was helped to shore where he was picked up by a panga (small motorboat).  The bleeding was staunched with the help of a young doctor who happened to be on the same trip.   He was taken to the town of San Cristobal, a 3 hour boat ride away, where hospital staff there re-attached the severed ligaments.  He flew back to the UK yesterday where he was to undergo further treatment.

Shark attacks are almost unheard of in Galapagos.  According to the website sharkattackdata.com, there have been 7 unprovoked shark attacks in Galapagos since 1954.  Given that there are approximately 200,000 visitors per year now in Galapagos, the odds of being bitten by a shark are negligible.  

The previous non-provoked, non-fatal attacks consisted of the following:

1954:  Fisherman standing on a submerged platform, bitten on the foot

1959:  Tuna fisherman swept overboard into a school of fish, bitten in the leg and foot

2007:  Surfer, bitten in the thigh, San Cristobal island

2008:  Tourist, bitten in the leg, Santa Cruz Island

2009:  Surfer, bitten in leg, Isabela Island

2014:  Surfer, Tortuga Bay, Santa Cruz Island, bitten in the calf

2015:  Snorkeler, Punta Vicente Roca visitor site, bitten in the calf.

There will be no swimming nor snorkeling at Santa Fe for the time being as the Galapagos National Park Service assesses the situation.  

Based on the extreme rarity of shark bites in Galapagos, CNH Tours is confident that this is an isolated incident and that swimmers and snorkelers should not be afraid to continue doing what thousands upon thousands of others have done before them - swimming and snorkeling in the wonderful Galapagos waters.   

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