Tobago shark attack victim ‘able to communicate’

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The attack happened 10 metres off the shore (file image)
By Lauren Turner
BBC News

A British man seriously injured in a shark attack in Tobago is “aware of what is happening” and “able to communicate”, his wife has said.

Peter Smith, 64, was on the Caribbean island with wife Jo and friends when he was attacked in Courland Bay on Friday morning.

Two of the friends stayed in the water to “battle the shark”, Mrs Smith said.

Her husband is in intensive care in the island’s Scarborough General Hospital, where he is in a stable condition.

“Peter has suffered damage to his left arm and leg, puncture wounds to the abdomen and injuries to his right hand, the full extent of which are still being evaluated,” said Mrs Smith, of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

Hospital medics are now deciding on “the future course of treatment”, she added.

The Tobago House of Assembly said the incident involved a bull shark estimated to be eight to 10 ft (2.4m to 3m) long and 2ft (60cm) wide.

Its chief secretary Farley Augustine had said on Saturday that Mr Smith had had some fingers reattached after the attack, with “significant wounds” to one of his legs that would require “extensive work”.

“As of 09:00 local time today, Peter is aware of what is happening and is able to communicate a little, although he is still under strong medication,” his wife said.

She thanked “all those that assisted at the scene, and especially the two friends that remained in the water to battle the shark”.

Mrs Smith also thanked “the wonderfully kind people of Tobago for all their help and support”.

Eyewitness Orion Jakerov, water sports manager at the nearby Starfish resort, has said other people in the water were “physically trying to fight off the shark”.

He told the local broadcaster TTT Live: “I don’t think they saw it. They were about waist height in the water so they weren’t out of their depth.

“I think their backs were turned and they were just kind of lounging around. Nobody saw the shark coming.”

One holidaymaker describes what she saw moments after the attack

Authorities closed seven beaches and all coastal areas between the town of Plymouth on the island’s northern coast and Store Bay on its western tip, a stretch of around seven miles (11.3km), in the wake of the attack.

Drones were being used to carry out surveillance of the area, and anyone operating a boat was urged to exercise caution.

Bull sharks are known to be aggressive and are most often found in shallow waters along tropical coastlines, making them – along with great white and tiger sharks – among the species most likely to come into contact with, and attack, humans.

A $10,000 (£8,010) bounty previously offered to anyone who could capture the shark and move it away from the beaches was retracted, Mr Augustine said on Saturday.

Tobago, the smaller of the two islands of Trinidad and Tobago, is located in the southern Caribbean, around 74 miles (119km) off the coast of South America.

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