Great white shark decapitates diver

The first fatal shark attack of the year occurred off the coast of Mexico early this month, as a 19-foot-long great white shark decapitated a diver harvesting shellfish.

The horrific incident took place on Jan. 5 while Manuel Lopez, 53, was collecting an ax tripe – a type of mollusk – off Benito Juárez, Sonora on Mexico’s west coast. A diver from the town of Paredón Colorado was reported to have dived to the ocean floor without an oxygen tank in order to capture these critters, which typically reside in depths of 36 to 59 feet.

The shark bit Lopez’s head clean off during his shellfishing expedition, according to Tracking Sharks.

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

Local shark sightings have increased in recent weeks, prompting fishermen to be 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,” Bernal stated.

As a result of the shellfish shortage, Lopez, who was reportedly in need of money, saw an opportunity to make a killing. It is reported that he ignored the warnings and embarked on what would be his last fishing expedition.

It is unclear what prompted the shark to attack, but turbulence and sounds generated by Lopez during his mollusk harvest could have attracted the shark.

While wearing wetsuits, humans are often mistaken for seals, prompting sharks to take “experimental” bites. In spite of the fact that these creatures typically move on after realizing the victim is not their preferred prey, an exploratory nibble can prove disastrous as a result of the shark’s rows of serrated, meat-shearing teeth.

In December and January, when great white sharks are most prevalent in the Gulf of California, divers are more likely to be mistaken for seals. During this period, pregnant sharks are reported to be searching for fat-filled sea lions.