By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
“IT won’t stop me from going in the water,” Donna McHugh, a visitor from Massachusetts, said of Wednesday’s fatal shark attack.
Ms McHugh, a mother of two children, was among the visitors The Tribune interviewed on Friday while canvassing Cabbage Beach, following an advisory from the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources that warned the public to “exercise extreme caution” while “in and around” the waters of New Providence, Rose Island, and Paradise Island.
Like Ms McHugh, the tourists regretted Wednesday’s tragedy, which claimed the life of 21-year-old Jordan Lindsey, a young woman from California who was killed by sharks while snorkelling with her family in the waters near Rose Island.
However, the guests underscored their belief that the tragedy was an accident and overwhelmingly told The Tribune it will not stop them from enjoying the beach. If anything, a number reported the incident increased their sense of awareness and encouraged them to become more educated.
Ms McHugh said she has been visiting The Bahamas three times a year for over a decade.
“I always thought The Bahamas is pretty safe,” she told The Tribune. “I’m not concerned about going in the water here (Cabbage Beach), but I have snorkelled in the water at Rose Island.”
Ms McHugh added that she was informed that it is currently mating season for sharks.
“I didn’t know it was mating season so maybe that’s why (the accident occurred). It won’t stop me from going in the water but it will stop me from snorkelling this time of year and stop the kids,” she said. “It causes me to be more educated, do more research.”
Fred, a visitor from Virginia, said he was on a snorkelling expedition to Rose Island on Wednesday – one hour before the tragedy occurred.
“Everything seemed fine, no safety concerns. It was a nice time,” Fred said of his tour experience.
Fred said he saw no sharks, but added other tour boats were feeding bread to the fish.
When asked if the attack is making him have any concerns about snorkelling in The Bahamas, he replied: “It scares me a little bit. If people are feeding the fish, I’m not going out there. But otherwise I’d still go out there.”
However, he said he had “no concerns” about being in the water on Friday. He added there have been shark attacks in the water in Virginia, where he lives.
Laruen Whitt, of Colorado, said she snorkelled in the Rose Island area last week. She noted she has been visiting The Bahamas with her family for over two decades.
“We’ve been coming here for the past 22 years and still believe The Bahamas is one of the most beautiful places to visit. We will continue to come.”
Alex and Daniella, visitors from New Jersey, said they went in the water yesterday, “no issue”.
Adding the matter is still “concerning”, they added: “It’s good to be aware of what’s going on.”
“A beautiful, gentle soul” is how Lindsey’s family described the young woman who was tragically killed.
“Jordan was 21 and such a great daughter and person. We already miss her terribly,” Lindsey’s father, Michael Lindsey, told ABC News.
“Myself, my two boys, and Jordan’s girlfriend, Gianna, were on another part of the island, just swimming on the beach side,” he said. “My wife, Kami, and Jordan went snorkelling on another part of island. My wife was near Jordan, a few feet away, when the shark attacked.
“She said it happened so fast, and no one yelled anything. My wife got to Jordan and pulled Jordan to shore by herself. The medical staff said they still had to do an autopsy. My wife said no one told her there were three sharks.”
Lindsey’s right arm was torn off and her left arm, both legs, and buttocks were bitten, according to the ABC article.
Following the tragedy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources issued a public advisory.
“The public is advised to exercise extreme caution in and around the waters of New Providence, adjacent islands and cays, in particular the areas of northern shoreline of New Providence, the northeastern shoreline of Paradise Island, Rose Island and along the Montagu foreshore,” the statement reads.
“The public is further advised to avoid the cleaning or discarding of fish waste in the water as this practice attracts sharks into areas often utilised for swimming by the public and our guests. Further, if a shark is seen in the swimming area, persons are advised to leave the water and in no circumstance molest or play with the animal.
“Also, if injured and bleeding while in the water, it is recommended that you leave the water as sharks are attracted to blood.
“The public is encouraged to report all sightings to the Public Authority.”