The later part of September
2007 I was invited by a Bahamian friend (Jerome) to
visit his hometown of Sweetings Cay. I am a 48 year
old female and I brought my 72 year old father with
me. Our plans were to bonefish, find some lobster
and shoot some hog snapper.
The first day the weather was
windy and rainy but we finally got off to the North
side of the island out of the wind and snorkeled and
got some lobster and just had fun being in the
We woke up the second day and
the weather had cleared, so about 10:00am we took
our 17 foot Boston Whaler and 2 pole spears and 2
Hawaiian slings and headed south to the reef.
The inner edge of the reef is
only about a half of a mile from shore and the water
was around 10 – 12 feet deep in most places.
I was wearing a white tank top,
blue and white checked jogging shorts, yellow &
black fins, and black snorkel and mask.
Jerome and I got in the water
while my dad followed about 25 yards away in the
The water was about 88 degrees
and the visibility was quite good.
We shot a couple of fish and
Jerome mentioned that he thought my dad was
following us too far away in the boat. We got back
in the boat and moved about 100 yards to the west
into a different area out of the blood/fish current
(which was moving north to south) that we had shot
the fish in.
I mentioned to my dad that he
should follow us closer and told him to jump in the
water and I would show him how close we want him to
be. My dad shot a hog snapper and as he came up
with it I was right on top of him, just 3-5 feet
away. I explained that he should be that close when
we are spearing fish so we could pop the fish right
in the boat and avoid it flopping around bleeding
and attracting sharks.
While swimming we had seen a
couple of nurse sharks swimming by and also a large
barracuda that was very interested in us.
We moved a few times, each time
about 100 yards to the west.
It was just about noon when
Jerome and I were in the water again and I pointed
out a hogfish that he shot with his Hawaiian sling.
He went and picked it up and put it in the boat.
About 30 seconds later I saw
another fish that was well camouflaged and pointed
it out to Jerome. He shot that fish also and went
down to pick it up.
He was coming up toward the
surface with the fish and I was about 3 feet away
from him and still about 2 feet under the water when
out of nowhere a 5-6 foot grey reef shark exploded
Jerome dropped the hogfish but
the shark propelled itself on top of me. It all
happened so quickly, I just remember lying on my
back with the sharks head toward my feet and his
body basically on my chest and face as he broke the
snorkel off of my mask. The shark had knocked the
pole spear out of my hand and I had gloves on and
was pushing him off of me and wasn’t necessarily
scared but was thinking “S.O.B. there is a shark on
me” and was just in awe of the incredible strength
of the animal’s body.
My dad was on the boat within 3
feet of me and said he saw “boiling” in the water
and thought that Jerome had shot a tremendous fish.
Jerome immediately jumped on the boat.
At this point I was facing the
boat and the shark turned quickly and bit and
released the inner thigh/upper buttock of my left
I turned and saw him and pulled
my fins up between him and myself. Both of us were
about a foot beneath the surface at this point. As
I was trying to kick him away his mouth was open,
back arched and he and I were doing a sort of
underwater dance to see if I was going to kick him
or he was going to bite me.
I believe I must have popped
him on the snout with my fin and he turned.
I immediately turned to the
boat which was directly above me (unfortunately I
came up at the bow of the boat). I said “help” and
my dad and Jerome grabbed my arms and yanked me on
My legs were hanging in the
water still and they yanked again as they saw the
shark still circling my fins.
My dad asked if I was okay and
I looked down and saw light tooth marks on the top
of my left thigh that were not bleeding. I lifted my
leg and my dad saw the cuts on the bottom of my
leg/buttock. There was no pain and no excessive
bleeding. It took us approximately 3 hours to get
into Freeport where they sutured 20 lacerations on
my inner left thigh/buttock.
In retrospect, I think the
shark sort of went into a feeding frenzy looking for
our fish. He didn’t realize that Jerome had dropped
it and saw my jogging shorts flapping around. The
shorts edge has the shark’s teeth marks in them! I
also had a white tank top and yellow fins on that
stood out. Jerome is a black Bahamian and I am a
white American. Quite a color difference.
It has been almost a month
since the attack and emotionally I am doing pretty
well. I still wake up every night thinking about
the incident and reliving how it all happened.
Everywhere I go people are interested in what
happened and I have pictures so I don’t have to pull
down my pants to show people my rear. It seems that
most males think it is a badge of honor to survive a
shark attack. The physical scars don’t bother me
even though they will be with me for life. I will
get back in the water next summer. In fact, I would
like to go find my pole spears and snorkel on reef
at Sweetings Cay.