Great white decapitates diver in first fatal shark attack of 2023: report

A 19-foot great white shark decapitated a diver this month as he harvested shellfish off Mexico, reportedly marking the first fatal shark attack of the year.

The horrific tragedy occurred Jan. 5 while Manuel Lopez, 53, was gathering ax tripe — a type of mollusk — in Tobari Bay in Benito Juárez, Sonora, Tracking Sharks reported. He was said to have been diving to the ocean floor without an oxygen tank to nab the critters, which typically reside at depths of 36 to 59 feet.

Lopez’s shellfishing expedition was cut short when the shark bit his head clean off, according to Tracking Sharks.

“He was diving when the animal attacked him, impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,” eyewitness Jose Bernal told the outlet.

A great white shark named Brutus is shown off Guadalupe Island in Mexico on Nov. 29, 2021.

The attack follows an increase in local shark sightings that have area fishermen on high alert. “Local divers had been warned about the presence of sharks in the area, and most had not been out for several days,” said Bernal.

However, Lopez, who was reportedly in need of money, saw an opportunity to make a killing due to the shellfish shortage. He allegedly decided to ignored the warnings and embark on what would be his final fishing trip.

It’s unclear what prompted the apex predator to attack, however the shark could’ve been attracted to the turbulence and sounds generated by Lopez while he was harvesting mollusks, Tracking Sharks reported.

A great white shark named Brutus bares his teeth
Brutus, who is said to weigh 1,500 pounds, bares his teeth.

Humans are also often mistaken for seals while wearing wetsuits, which can prompt sharks to take “experimental” bites. And while the creatures generally move on after realizing the victim isn’t their preferred prey, this exploratory nibble can prove catastrophic due to the shark’s rows of serrated, meat-shearing teeth.

Divers are more likely to be mistaken for seals come December and January, when great white sharks are most prevalent in the Gulf of California, Tracking Sharks noted. Pregnant female sharks are said to be searching for fat-filled sea lions during that time.

This article was originally posted by The New York Post.

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