A 49-year-old diver has died after being attacked by a tiger shark as she surfaced from a dive off the remote Cocos Island National Park, a World Heritage Site some 330 miles from mainland Costa Rica, on Thursday 30 November.
Rohina Bhandari, a private equity director from Manhattan in the USA, suffered severe bites to her legs from the tiger shark and tragically died from her injuries despite frantic efforts from park guards and fellow guests to save her.
The Divemaster who was with the group was also bitten as he tried to fend off the tshark, but his wound was not life-threatening and he is now in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
Apparently, the shark followed the divers as they were finishing their dive and returning to the tender and attacked near the surface.
The tiger shark is one of the largest sharks in the world and renowned for their strong jaws and razor-sharp teeth, but as with all shark attacks, incidents involving humans are incredibly rare, and unprovoked attacks on divers are even more few and far between, which makes this sad episode – the first on record at Cocos – even more tragic.
From the editor: I have dived with tiger sharks on several occasions, both expected encounters (Tiger Beach in the Bahamas) and unexpected (Sudan). They are magnificent creatures, and their sheer size and presence is awe-inspiring. However, I have never particularly felt threatened by them – although I have to admit turning round at 5m on a sheer wall at Sha’ab Rumi and having a four-metre-plus specimen literally arm’s length behind me did get the old adrenaline pumping! – but I have never, ever lost my respect for these predatory fish. They are more than capable of taking out prey our size or even bigger, including other shark species, but thankfully, attacks on humans are incredibly rare, and fatalities from these even more so. Take this extremely sad incident – Cocos Island is renowned for its shark populations, which are a major draw for divers from all over the world, and yet this was the first fatal attack on record at the national park.