British tourist fighting for his life after shark attack on holiday in Tobago

British tourist Peter Smith was attacked by a bull shark as he reportedly swam just 30ft from the shore in Tobago on Friday

Alexander Butler
Saturday 27 April 2024 15:08 BST
Witnesses recall moment shark attacked British tourist in Tobago

A British tourist is fighting for his life in Tobago after being attacked by a shark.

The man, named by local authorities as 64-year-old Peter Smith from Hertfordshire, was rushed to an intensive care unit after he was attacked by the 8-10ft long bull shark on Friday morning.

The horrific incident happened as Mr Smith was swimming just 30ft from the shore of Turtle Beach along Great Courland Bay on the island’s north coast. The man is in a serious condition at Scarborough General Hospital on the island.

The Foreign Office is supporting the man’s family.

Government officials have since closed seven beaches and the nearby Buccoo Reef Marine Park to allow for an investigation and “neutralise the shark threat, if possible”.

Farley Augustine, chief secretary of the Tobagonian government, called on tourists and locals, including fishermen, to stay out of the water.

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“Out of an abundance of caution, we are forced to temporarily close beaches: Plymouth, Courland Bay, Black Rock, Mt Irvine, Buccoo, Pigeon Point, Store Bay and all coastal areas in between,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

“Currently, we are doing drone reconnaissance/surveillance, coastguard surveillance, and the Department of Fisheries is combing the area to ensure safety.”

Tobago, one of the constituent islands of Trinidad and Tobago, is located in the southern Caribbean, around 74 miles (119km) off the coast of South America.

In the last 20 years, there have been only two recorded shark attacks as far south as Tobago, and neither was within 200 miles of the island itself.

Worldwide, shark attacks are rare.

Last year, there were 69 unprovoked attacks and 22 provoked bites worldwide, along with 14 fatalities, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

Bull sharks, which often frequent shallow water and can even venture into the freshwater of river mouths, are known for their aggression.

Along with tiger sharks and great whites, they are one of the three shark species most frequently involved in attacks on humans.

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