3 shark attacks have Mexico resort area in panic
ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico – No one could even remember a shark attack along this resort-studded stretch of Mexican coast popular with surfers and Hollywood’s elite. Many of the large predators had been pulled from the ocean by fishermen. So when sharks attacked three surfers in less than a month, two fatally, it was unthinkable. The latest attack came Saturday, when a shark chomped down on the arm of surfing enthusiast Bruce Grimes, an American expat who runs a surf shop in Zihuatanejo.
Grimes and a handful of other surfers were out on dark, choppy waters when he felt something lift his board. He managed about five strokes before teeth sank into his arm. “Shark!” he screamed, wresting his arm back. Grimes made it to shore, escaping with a few gashes.
“There wasn’t any time to panic,” he said. “I thought: ‘Don’t want to die. Don’t want to lose my arm.’”
Only later did the 49-year-old Florida native learn a local surfer had been killed by a shark at a neighboring beach the previous day. Less than a month before that, a visitor from San Francisco was killed while surfing another nearby beach. Before that, shark attacks were unheard of here. University of Florida expert George Burgess was in the area Wednesday interviewing witnesses, going over autopsy reports and checking out beaches to find out why the sharks had suddenly become so aggressive.
Burgess’ International Shark Attack File records an average of only four fatal shark attacks around the world each year. This year, there has been only one other recorded shark fatality outside Mexico — a 66-year-old surfer killed at Solana Beach, Calif.
The attacks around Zihuatanejo have puzzled experts and, alarmingly for local businesses, the mayhem is keeping tourists away.