A 50-year-old man was killed by a shark after it bit into his right thigh Tuesday in New Caledonia. The victim, a kitesurfing vacationer from Western Australia, had arrived there just days before for a 10-day trip.
The crew on board the yacht escorting the man while he surfed reportedly saw the attack and dragged him out of the water. They tried to give him CPR while rescuers were dispatched but were unable to save his life.
His death marks the fourth shark attack at the small French colony Northeast of Australia. Of those four attacks, one other has proved fatal. The first death was a woman who was attacked in May.
Officials said the man killed Tuesday was in an area that is generally thought to be safe — within the reef that encompasses the lagoon — but recognized that they can’t control where sharks go. He was far from where the other attacks had occurred, they said.
“We can't stop sharks entering the lagoon. He was just in a bad place at a bad time,” Nicolas Renaud, director of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, told reporters.
Crew members weren’t sure what kind of shark attacked the man but said the animal was very large.
Shark attacks are relatively rare occurrences in the world but some scientists believe rising ocean water temperatures may change shark habits and contribute to an increase in attacks. There were 98 people attacked in the world last year, a figure that is the highest number ever recorded by researchers at the University of Florida, where data has been collected since 1958. Six of those attacks were fatal.
Still, shark attacks are one of the least likely ways to die at the beach. While one in 3.5 million people drown at the beach each year, the chance of a shark attack is smaller at one in 11.5 million. A shark fatality is a statistical impossibility, at zero in 264.1 million, according to Oceana.