When you think of Fiji, word associations like “vacation” and “tropical” come up a lot. Something that people don’t like to think a lot about, though? Sharks. The “Jaws” beast’s large array of razor-sharp teeth is enough to elicit a fear response from most people. It doesn’t help hearing a 12-year-old girl is still recovering after an alleged shark bite led to 42 stitches recently.
News of another close encounter is now making rounds. It involves a Fiji diver who’s lucky to be able to still tell the tale.
The Tale of ‘Big Mama’
After making regular appearances just off Fiji’s Beqa Island for a while, locals decided to honor the estimated 14-16ft long tiger shark with a name. They chose “Big Mama.” Don’t let the name fool you, however. This “mama” isn’t always so nice. In fact, she is known to cause conflict. According to Beach Grit, some divers in the area even sum up their interactions with her as a game of “Russian Roulette.” They never know whether “Big Mama” is feeling particularly aggressive that day. In most cases, she seems to respond to being pushed away with sticks and poles. She gave one diving team quite the scare when she went for one of the divers’ heads.
The diving team organized by a resort consisted of 12 people. A witness and diver from the group did provide The Fiji Times with a recollection of the events but asked to remain anonymous. She shared the following story:
“The shark turned to bite the divers and my friend was the unlucky one. At that time all the divemasters rushed to push her away, but it was already too late. His head was in the shark’s mouth and later the divemaster managed to kick her away. While the shark was leaving, the victim’s mask and hoodie were pulled off.”
The victim sustained several wounds from the event and was taken to the hospital. The injury was estimated to be about 3 inches long and 0.2 inches deep.
The Sun shared video and snaps from the scary event:
Shark Attack Numbers
Over the span of the last nine years, shark attack reports cite almost 800 casualties at the hands (or teeth) of the beast. For a while, Australia held the title for the highest number of attacks. Now, the United States surpassed that with the “Shark Capital of the World” set in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Experts claim there have been approximately 50 shark sightings in the area since the start of summer alone.
Globally, we have seen about the same number in shark attacks with 6 of the 49 ending in tragic fatality. Many cities display “swim at your own risk” placards near shark-infested waters and coves, but people don’t always heed the warnings. So, these numbers continue to climb as sharks get accustomed to seeing the tourists and divers.