‘TAKE ACTION ON SHARK ATTACKS’: FNM chairman calls for more safety measures

POLICE visit the site of Tuesday’s shark attack and (inset) FNM chairman Dr Duane Sands.

POLICE visit the site of Tuesday’s shark attack and (inset) FNM chairman Dr Duane Sands.


Tribune Staff Reporter


FREE National Movement chairman Dr Duane Sands has called on government to implement certain safety protocols for tourism water operators in the aftermath of a fatal shark attack earlier this week.

Dr Sands said tour operators should be equipped, for example, with tourniquets to stop the flow of blood, blood clotting powders and have a standard kit for emergencies. He said tour operators should also be trained to deal with the aftermath of shark attacks or other injuries that may occur on an excursion.


Caroline DiPlacido

His comments came after 58-year-old Caroline DiPlacido of Lake Erie, Pennsylvania died on Tuesday after being attacked by a bull shark while snorkelling with family near Green Cay.

The American resident and her family were visiting the Bahamas on their cruise trip and went on a local excursion when the tragedy happened.

Dr Sands, former health minister, offered condolences to Ms DiPlacido’s family over her death, describing the incident as unfortunate.

 However, he said it also created an opportunity for the country to look at ways to better safeguard our visitors who participate in similar water-based activities.

 “Whenever we have a tragedy, it becomes important to avoid or to minimise the inevitable - finger pointing and to ask whether there are potential opportunities to do some things differently to safeguard our guests and our local population and to make our destination that much more appealing,” he said.


POLICE visit the site of Tuesday’s shark attack. Photos: Austin Fernander

 “While The Bahamas has had less than 100 shark attacks in recorded history and we have records going back as far as 1868, there is the impression that there have been a few more in recent years. We had at least two in 2019.”

 He said that over the last month, there have also been two reported shark attacks, including Tuesday’s fatal incident.

 In an effort to prevent fatalities should another shark attack occur, Dr Sands recommended several protocols and regulations that could be put in place for operators in the water sport industry.

 He said: “We’ve already documented two shark attacks within the last month and a little boy injured and now this and so, you know certainly one of the opportunities we have is to ensure that tour operators are adequately equipped with tourniquet, hemostatic agents to stop bleeding so that if possible, they have a fighting chance to see like the ability to create a tourniquet to stop torrential bleeding from an injured limb can potentially make a lot of difference.

 “There are also commercially available powders which when poured into a wound that can add to getting the blood to clot and I would suggest that perhaps this is not an unreasonable time to make available through the government and through the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the creation of a standard kit to be available in every single tour vessel that is on our waters.

 “And also, perhaps to look at training for persons that offer these tours and locals who might wish to understand what they might do not just in the event of a shark attack, but in the event of a boating injury, laceration, etc, and I say this in the spirit of what might make this destination safer.”

 In 2019, tourism officials were said to be discussing new protocols to implement after American Jordan Lindsey was killed by a shark during a snorkelling trip off Rose Island. However it is unclear if they were ever implemented and tourism officials could not be reached yesterday for comment.

 Asked whether the opposition party had concerns about the incident affecting the nation’s tourism product, the FNM chairman said the number of shark attacks does not show that “we are in the middle of a crisis” but as such does warrant serious concern.

 He said: “Shark attacks ever since (the movie) Jaws have elicited a disproportionate emotional response, okay. As rare as they are, they elicit an outsized response that reverberates around the world. We have seen in Florida, Australia and other places an increase or a change in behaviour, but I don’t think we should exaggerate that, because the number of attacks basically do not bear out the view that we had in the middle of a crisis or emergency.

 “That said, being proactive and being scientific and data driven makes an awful lot of sense and we have some experts.

 “There is Candace Fields, by way of disclaimer, happens to be family of mine, but she is one of our local experts on shark behaviour. We have other marine biologists that are able to guide us through this process and without having this thing degenerate into a finger-pointing useless exercise. We can ask what possible good can come out of a horrible tragedy if we are able to make our excursions safer and more attractive and make the Bahamas a better, safer destination.”

 Ms DiPlacido was a longtime employee at Gannon University in the US, having served as a marketing secretary and most recently, project coordinator in community and government relations.

 “Along with her efforts to further the mission of Erie-GAINS and Our West Bayfront, Caroline was a powerful presence of kindness and friendship to colleagues, students and the wider community and cherished many family ties to Gannon,” the university chaplain, Rev Michael Kesicki said in a statement. “The news is devastating, and she will be missed.

“We pray for Caroline as she crosses over to eternity. We pray for her husband, David, her children, David, Robert and Allison; her mother, Olivia; and her wider family.”

 Yesterday, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the coroner visited the site where the attack was reported to have taken place.

 Speaking to reporters, press liaison officer Chief Superintendent Chrislyn Skippings did not have many new updates on the attack other than to say that the victim was officially identified by police.

 Meanwhile, an investigation into the incident is continuing.


M0J0 6 months, 3 weeks ago

how do you protect against a shark attack? asking for a friend. Further more whom will be supplying tour operators with medical equipment even after spending all kind of money just to be licensed. I can see suggesting maybe marine ambulances are needed to patrol like the rbdf and rbpf.


ThisIsOurs 6 months, 3 weeks ago

RBDF too far away. Deduct the money for safety out of VAT or business license.


tribanon 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Someone please remind Sands that we are for the most part a bankrupt nation of bankrupt people thanks in great part to foolish politicians like himself. This simpleton of a goof-ball is calling for milliions of dollars to be spent on shark attack preparedness for the very, very few shark attacks that have occurred in our seas over many, many decades.

Meanwhile we are nowhere near prepared as a nation for the next Dorian-like hurricane that will hit a major populated centre of The Bahamas. And as a medical doctor, this clown should be crying for more government funding to be directed towards life-sustaining medications for the many more Bahamians who are now financially distressed and no longer able to purchase their vital medications.

But instead, loony-tune Sands wants millions of dollars in public and private sector funds to be diverted to shark attack preparedness. Sands must think we are all as stupid as he is. God only knows how this man ever became a surgeon. Perhaps we should conclude surgery may have been the only thing he was ever capable of doing in life. Next to the likes of Tommy T and Tyrant Minnis, Simpleton Sands is about as politically tone deaf as a Bahamian politician can be.


ScubaSteve 6 months, 3 weeks ago

110% agree with your post!! A much better purpose for any additional money would be towards hurricane preparations and rebuilding after the next big one. Now with that said, having some plastic bands on the tour boat to serve as tourniquets is a good idea (just like having life jackets on board). Hell, even just buying some large plastic zip ties from the hardware store might work.


GodSpeed 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, If a Dorian hits Nassau in the same way it sat on the northern islands then this country is finished.


themessenger 6 months, 3 weeks ago

One thing that every boat should have plenty of on board is ropes which incidentally make very serviceable tourniquets as do towels as compression bandages, when properly applied. Likewise, every pleasure boat, never mind a vessel engaged in commercial passenger transportation or for charter, should have a first aid kit onboard and the captain should at least have had rudimentary training in basic first aid procedures one of which is how to apply a tourniquet. What is needed is more stringent regulations and more comprehensive training governing the granting of charter or tour boat licenses as many of the operators know little more than how to drive the boat and anchor it. Watching some of the attempts at anchoring stern to the beach at Rose Island by so called charter crews, especially in windy and choppy conditions, is quite entertaining. As for the defense force, they rarely if ever leave the confines of the harbor where they are quite content to harass weekend boaters going about their business while conveniently ignoring all the wake law violators that keep everything not tied down on your boat on the deck, or staying moored at the dock at the Margaritaville Beach Resort at The Pointe.


bahamianson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Need to call that dude on Jaws to kill that shark. If a pit bull mauls a person, he is put down. This dude killed a whole human being , not a half , a whole. He needs to be hunted. So, is he still hanging around?


ScubaSteve 6 months, 3 weeks ago

WHAT?!?!?!?!? Yes, the pit bull is put down because it is a danger to everyone in that particular neighborhood and because the specific dog can be positively ID'd by the person that got bit and sometimes by bystanders and now even my doorbell cameras. The problem with hunting down one specific Bull shark is there is NO WAY to confirm you have located the same shark.


bahamianson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Really? That is what they told you? How dis you come up with those reasons? Actually , the put down the bull shark was a joke.


bahamianson 6 months, 3 weeks ago

And truth be told, a dog is put down if it kills a person but what if you can positively identify a person in your neighborhood whom kills a person? Is he or she or they put down or hung?


ScubaSteve 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Glad to see your comment about putting down the shark was a joke. Whew! And yes... I have no problem with the death penalty for someone that kills another person.


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