A diver was recently decapitated by a 19-foot-long (5.8 meters) great white shark while diving for ax tripe, a scallop-like mollusk in Mexico. The tragic event made headlines because of the unusual nature of the attack.
Manuel Nieblas López, who was in his 50s, was attacked on Jan. 5 in Tobari Bay along the Gulf of California off Mexico. At the time of the attack, López was collecting the shellfish at a depth of between 36 and 59 feet (11 and 18 m) using a surface-supplied air source — a scuba-like apparatus that connects the diver to a compressed air source on a boat through a series of pipes, according to Trackingsharks.com, a website that records all global shark attacks. Two other fishermen, who were on a support boat when the attack happened, witnessed the shark “impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,” said Jose Bernal, who spoke for the surviving fishers, according to Trackingsharks.com.
Sharks rarely bite people. When they do, they typically grab the legs or torso after mistaking the person for prey, such as a seal, then release the victim after realizing the mistake. But a shark biting a person’s head or shoulders is extremely rare, experts told Live Science.
This type of attack is so rare that Greg Skomal, a marine biologist at the University of Boston and head of the shark program at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, has never heard of it occurring. “As rare as shark bites on humans can be, decapitation is even more unusually rare,” added Chris Lowe, the director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach.
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Source: Live Science