Details about the first deadly shark attack of 2023 have come out and they are brutal, with witnesses saying a great white shark virtually decapitated an unfortunate diver in Mexico.
According to the website Tracking Sharks, 53-year-old Manuel Lopez was diving for mollusks in Tobari Bay off the coast of Mexico on Jan. 5 when he was killed by a 19-foot great white shark.
Lopez was diving with a surface supplied air source, which consists of a hose that feeds air from a boat on the surface to a diver underwater, as opposed to a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA). Lopez was diving while two tenders remained on the surface to assist him, including witness Jose Bernal.
“He was diving when the animal attacked him, impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,” Bernal said, according to a translator.
Bernal said local divers had recently been warned about shark sightings in the area and many had not been out for several days. Bernal said Lopez chose to go out because a shortage of seafood left sales in high demand and he needed the money.
According to Tracking Sharks, another diver was killed in Yavaros Bay — about an hour and a half south of Tobari Bay — in a similar shark attack in February 2022.
Another diver was also killed by a shark in Puerto Penasco in December 2018, Tracking Sharks reported. Puerto Penasco, Tobari Bay and Yavaros Bay all feed into the Gulf of California.
Great white sharks can swim up to 35 mph when on the hunt.
Sharks can sense the chaotic movement of potential wounded prey in the water with an organ that runs along the length of a shark known as a lateral line. It’s possible that Lopez’ effort to pry mollusks from the ocean floor could generate the kind of underwater noice and turbulence that would lead sharks to believe there are wounded prey in the area.