A great white sharks is seen in a 2016 file photo taken off the coast of Mexico. (Dave J Hogan / Getty Images)
By Josiah Upper January 28, 2023 at 8:03am
A man was killed by a great white shark off the coast of Mexico earlier this month, according to reports.
The 19-foot shark bit off the head of a diver who was harvesting mollusks Jan. 5 in the waters of Tobari Bay, according to a Tracking Sharks website post by Kevin McMurray.
It was reportedly the first fatal shark attack of 2023.
Tenders aboard the fishing boat were powerless to help the diver, Manuel Lopez, as he lost his life.
Lopez had reportedly been diving for ax tripe, a scallop-like mollusk typically found at a depth of 36 to 59 feet.
The diver was using surface-supplied air from a hose connected to a compressor on the boat.
At about 11:30 a.m., Lopez was attacked by a massive shark, according to the report.
“He was diving when the animal attacked him, impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,” a witness said.
Would you dive where there are sharks?
Pregnant female white sharks migrate to the Gulf of California in December and January to feed on sea lions, according to McMurray.
He said most of the local divers had stayed out of the water for several days before the attack, due to reports of sharks being active.
Fishermen in the area have a 7,200 pesos-a-year stipend (less than $400 U.S.) available to them to supplement their incomes, according to McMurray.
However, the shortage of seafood caused by decreased fishing created additional demand, and Lopez made the call to dive, likely to generate needed income.
A 19-foot great white shark is massive, even by the standards of one of the largest animals on earth.
Encyclopedia Britannica said that “The largest fully grown white sharks do not exceed 6.4 metres (21 feet) in length.
“Most weigh between 680 and 1,800 kg (1,500 and 4,000 pounds), but some weighing more than 2,270 kg (about 5,000 pounds) have been documented.”
The fictitious creature from the iconic movie “Jaws” was a great white shark described as being 25 feet in length, according to The Daily Jaws.
The book, however, described the animal as being 20 feet long, which, if the report of this shark’s size is true, puts the shark from this tragedy nearly at the size many imagine when they think of the great white shark.
It is important to note, however, that incidents like this are extremely rare. The Daily Mail reported that great white sharks “attack 5-10 humans every year but usually just take a ‘sample bite’ out of curiosity before swimming off.”