Video captures the scary moment female snorkeler is bitten by shark during free dive

Experienced divers had an uncommon encounter when their swim among typically docile sharks turned suddenly violent with an attack caught on video.

Carmen Canovas Cervello, a 30-year-old nurse, was accompanying her friend, 37-year-old marine photographer Ibrahim Shafeeg, as he sought to capture images from the Vaavu Atoll on the coast of the Republic of Maldives. The archipelago, situated in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of India, offered the duo an opportunity to swim alongside 10 nurse sharks for around 45 minutes before the unexpected happened.

In the video captured by Shafeeg, known as “The Shark Guy,” Cervello can be seen seemingly brushing up against one of the sharks as she dives, triggering an immediate response as it lashed out below her shoulder.

Speaking to Media Drum World, Shafeeg explained, “We decided to do a free dive trip to shark bay and snorkel inside a group of sharks.”

“There were around ten nurse sharks, from 198 pounds to 220 pounds,” he detailed of their encounter before the one briefly took a swipe at Cervello. A closeup showed the crescent-shaped damage done to the woman, but the wound was considered only a minor setback by the pair.

“After the shark bite, we thought nothing major about it as it was only a minor injury so we cleaned the wound and continued snorkeling at the same spot again,” Shafeeg said.

According to the nonprofit organization National Aquarium, nurse sharks are considered “docile and mostly harmless to humans,” but have “been known to bite in self-defense.”

“A nurse shark’s mouth is filled with rows of small, serrated teeth for crushing hard-shelled prey,” and they typically consume crustaceans, small stingrays, squid or other bottom-dwelling organisms.

However, they have been known to cause considerable damage and, in August 2022, an eight-year-old British boy had been the victim of a more severe nurse shark attack when swimming in the Bahamas. As reported by Sky News, Finley Downer had been bitten on both legs before his nine-year-old sister Lily had pulled him to safety.

The boy’s father, Michael Downer, told the outlet it was “like a scene out of Jaws” and after rushing his son on a flight from their island tour back to Nassau for an emergency operation, they returned home to Kettering, Northamptonshire where the child was recovering and using a wheelchair.

A month later, a Pennsylvania woman was killed by a bull shark while snorkeling in the Bahamas after suffering severe injuries to her “upper extremities.”

The International Shark Attack File reported that in 2022 there were 57 unprovoked shark bites and 32 provoked. Out of all unprovoked attacks, only five had proven fatal and, overall, 2022 had seen fewer shark attacks than the previous five-year average.

Attacks while snorkeling accounted for only nine percent while the vast majority occurred by swimmers and waders at 43 percent. Shafeeg said that he and Cervello were able to continue their dive for days after the attack without further incident.


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