Jordan Lindsey was killed by sharks in June.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
CONCERN that the Bahamas’ tourism market could suffer a blow after a fatal shark attack last month has created the impetus for officials to consider a number of measures to protect snorkellers.
According to Janet Johnson, CEO and executive director of the Tourism Development Corporation, several safeguards are being considered in the aftermath of Californian Jordan Lindsey’s death as a result of a shark attack on June 26. The 21-year-old was swimming with her mother near Rose Island when sharks savaged her. Lindsey’s family has criticised tour company Sandy Toes claiming there were no basic medical supplies and no attempts made by staff to save the college student’s life.
Ms Johnson agreed these should be mandatory, adding officials were going to work “quite diligently” to make the necessary changes. Stakeholders also want there to be emergency and training protocols put in place, she said.
“What’s come out of (a recent stakeholder meeting) is that people are now going out into the water and you’ve got somebody standing as a sentry watching to see that they’re safe and not interfered with,” she told The Tribune.
“There is improved technology that we can use now such as drones, you can have lifeguards posted at beaches, you can have game wardens monitoring and patrolling areas. So there are things that we can do but maybe we need to step up our visibility.”
So far, there have been three reported shark attacks for the year.
Asked whether concerns were present that such incidents could affect the tourism product, Ms Johnson said: “No doubt. You have these incidents happening all over the world and they do have an impact. Our concern is for the safety of everyone involved and to mitigate against situations where we are able to react and respond in a timely manner.”
As for a timeline to implement these new strategies, she said it was hoped the process would move along very swiftly.
The Ministry of Tourism seemed to distance itself from the situation saying it did not handle policy changes.
Instead, Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu said her ministry was working along with partners to ensure communication remained open.
She said: “We are working as we do every day with partners having conversations, but more specifically we are working with the regulatory ministries who have control to ensure that we do everything for our visitors to be safe.
“We are also mindful that while a tragedy - and nothing we say or do alleviates the pain of that family - we are dealing with a natural phenomenon.”
Sandy Toes, which offers excursions, private events and weddings alongside its beach bar and luxury villa on Rose Island, yesterday maintained all reasonable steps were taken to prevent the incident.
An American man said he survived a shark bite in Abaco days before the fatal attack, raising further concerns about possible chum dumping in Bahamian waters. Jonathan Hernandez, the victim, told NBC reporters he blamed shark-feeding for his attack.
About a week after this incident an American tourist was bitten by a shark while snorkelling in waters off Guana Cay.
Police said the Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident was snorkelling with two other Americans off Nippers Beach around 5.30pm on July 4 when he was bitten by the shark. Officers and paramedics from Marsh Harbour responded and met the victim at the Marsh Harbour dock.
The 32-year-old man was taken to the Marsh Harbour Clinic and later flown to New Providence for further treatment, police said. His current condition is unknown.