Caribbean shark attack 2022: what happened to Italian tourist killed by tiger shark - and where is San Andres?

The attack has been described as first for La Piscinita (Photo: MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)The attack has been described as first for La Piscinita (Photo: MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images)
The attack has been described as first for La Piscinita (Photo: MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

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The attack has been described as a first for the popular snorkelling and swimming area of La Piscinita in San Andrés

A 56-year-old Italian tourist has died after he was attacked by a tiger shark on the island of San Andrés.

The attack, which took place in the popular swimming and snorkelling area on the island called La Piscinita, is said to be the area’s first shark attack.

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What happened?

The tourist, who has been named as Antonio Roseto Degli Abruzzi, had been swimming in the La Piscinita area when he lost a large portion of his right thigh after being bitten by a eight-foot long tiger shark.

Images that have circulated on social media, and shared by local news outlets, showed Mr Abruzzi after the attack, lying on his back with blood coming out of his wound before he was taken to Clarence Lynd Newball Memorial Hospital.

According to reports, Mr Abruzzi suffered from hypovolemic shock due to the amount of blood loss.

The attack, which happened on Friday, is said to be La Piscinita’s first.

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An island government spokesperson said: “There are diving programmes with professionals in which sharks pass nearby, but nothing has ever happened.”

A spokesperson for the island’s government said that ‘nothing has ever happened’ like the attack before (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images)A spokesperson for the island’s government said that ‘nothing has ever happened’ like the attack before (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images)
A spokesperson for the island’s government said that ‘nothing has ever happened’ like the attack before (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Diving instructor Mirla Zambrano also added: “We are all very surprised. It’s the first time a shark has attacked a tourist in San Andres.”

Speaking to reporters, marine biologist Rodrigo Lopez said: “People are very worried about what’s happened and they’re not letting people go into the water.

“A witness said the man who was attacked was a good swimmer and had been in the sea for quite a while and when he went further out a second time after coming back towards the shore, began to shout out for help and was surrounded by blood.”

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It’s unclear if it was one or two tiger sharks that were involved in the incident, as videos and images appear to show two sharks swimming together near the area where Mr Abruzzi was attacked.

Mauricio Valdonado, who risked his life to pull Mr Abruzzi out the water, said that the tourist was “on his own”.

Where is San Andrés?

San Andrés is a coral island situated in the Caribbean sea, and officially belongs to Colombia.

It’s located off the coast of Nicaragua, and it consists of an archipelago of islands - Providencia and Santa Catalina. It is famous for its white sand beaches, snorkelling and diving.

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San Andrés is a coral island off the coast of Nicaragua (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images)San Andrés is a coral island off the coast of Nicaragua (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images)
San Andrés is a coral island off the coast of Nicaragua (Photo: EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

While San Andrés is part of Colombia, it has historical ties with the UK. British settlers arrived at the island, and neighbouring island of Providencia, from Barbados and England in the 17th century.

In 1670, Welsh privateer Sir Henry Morgan used San Andrés as one of the centres of his operations.

The islands were controlled by the UK until 1787, following a failed Spanish invasion in 1635.

How common are shark attacks?

The International Shark Attack File, which is based out of the Florida Museum of Natural History and the University of Florida, is the only global scientifically verified database of shark attacks.

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According to the file, there are “probably 70-11 shark attacks annually resulting in about five deaths”. It states that it uses the word “probably” because “not all shark attacks are reported; our information from Third World countries is especially poor, and in other areas efforts are sometimes made to keep attacks quiet for fear of bad publicity”.

It says that there are three major kinds of unprovoked shark attacks. “Hit and run” is the most common, and typically occurs in the surf zone with swimmers and surfers. The victim usually doesn’t see the attack and the shark doesn’t return after inflicting a single bite.

Tiger sharks as listed as one of the primary species of sharks that attack humans, behind the great white shark, by the International Shark Attack File (Photo: STEFAN SAUER/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)Tiger sharks as listed as one of the primary species of sharks that attack humans, behind the great white shark, by the International Shark Attack File (Photo: STEFAN SAUER/DPA/AFP via Getty Images)
Tiger sharks as listed as one of the primary species of sharks that attack humans, behind the great white shark, by the International Shark Attack File (Photo: STEFAN SAUER/DPA/AFP via Getty Images) | DPA/AFP via Getty Images

“In most instances, these probably are cases of mistaken identity that occur under conditions of poor water visibility and a harsh physical environment (breaking surf and strong wash/current conditions),” the file says.

While less common, “bump and bite” and “sneak” attacks generally result in greater injuries and most fatalities.

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The file says: ““Bump and bite” attacks are characterised by the shark initially circling and often bumping the victim prior to the actual attack. “Sneak” attacks differ in having the strike occur without warning.

“In both cases, unlike the pattern for “hit and run” attacks, repeat attacks are not uncommon and multiple or sustained bites are the norm. Injuries incurred during this type of attack are usually quite severe, frequently resulting in death.”

The three species of shark that have been identified as the primary attackers are the white shark, tiger shark and bull shark, although any large shark, roughly two metres or longer in total length, poses a potential threat to humans.

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