Pennsylvania university employee identified as woman killed by shark in Bahamas

Five to seven other people were snorkeling when the attack happened.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2022
Pa. university employee identified as woman killed by shark in Bahamas
Gannon University released a statement regarding the death of their faculty member, Caroline DiPlacido, after the shark incident in the Bahamas.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Pennsylvania woman who was killed in a shark attack while snorkeling with her family in the Bahamas on Tuesday afternoon has been identified.

Gannon University, in Erie, released a statement Wednesday regarding the death of their faculty member, Caroline DiPlacido, after the shark incident in the Bahamas.

She was the project coordinator for the Office of Community and Government Relations at their Erie Campus, university officials said.

"Along with her efforts to further the mission of Erie-GAINS and Our West Bayfront, Caroline was a powerful presence of kindness and friendship to colleagues, students, and the wider community and cherished many family ties to Gannon. The news is devastating, and she will be missed," the university said in a statement.

DiPlacido was vacationing with her family and were on a snorkeling tour in the waters northwest of Rose Island when she was attacked by a bull shark Tuesday around 2 p.m. local time, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

"Tour operators along with family members attempted to rescue the female; however, they were unsuccessful; which resulted in the female receiving serious injuries to the left side of her body. EMS personnel visited the Fort Montagu Ramp where the victim was transported and confirmed no vital signs of life," the Royal Bahamas Police said in a news release Wednesday.

Police say the family arrived Tuesday morning on a cruise.

According to Royal Caribbean, the woman was a guest sailing on Harmony of the Seas, however, the family was on an independent shore excursion when the incident occurred.

The cruise line issued this statement to ABC News:

"While on an independent shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas, a guest sailing on Harmony of the Seas experienced injuries from a shark. After arriving at a local hospital for treatment, the guest passed away from their injuries. Royal Caribbean is providing support and assistance to the guest's loved ones during this difficult time.

The majority of shark attacks in the Caribbean have occurred in the Bahamas, with two reported in 2019, one of them fatal.

In June 2019, an American tourist snorkeling off Rose Island, located just a half mile from where Tuesday's attacked occurred, was killed in a shark attack. The victim, 21-year-old Loyola-Marymount University student Jordan Lindsey, died after a school of sharks attacked her.

In December 2020, a fatal shark attack was reported in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, the first such incident in that region.

Overall, at least 32 shark attacks have been reported in the Bahamas since 1749, followed by 13 attacks in Cuba during that time period, including one in 2019, according to the Florida-based International Shark Attack File.

Michael Heithaus, a marine biologist at Florida International University in Miami, said in a phone interview that the high number of attacks in the Bahamas is likely linked to the fact that there are a lot of people in the water in that area and that it has a robust marine ecosystem.

He said the Bahamas has a variety of shark species, the majority of which do not pay attention to people, except for bull sharks and tiger sharks.

"They get to very large sizes, and they eat big prey," Heithaus said, adding that sharks have incredible sensory systems and can be attracted to food, sounds and smells in the water.

But overall, shark attacks remain rare, he stressed.

Worldwide, there were 137 shark attacks last year, 73 of them unprovoked, according to the International Shark Attack File.

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.