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Woman killed in shark attack while swimming with young daughter off Mexico's Pacific coast

Beach safety amid increased shark sightings
How to stay safe at the beach amid increased shark sightings 03:14

A Mexican woman who was swimming with her young daughter died after she was severely bitten in the leg by a shark in the Pacific Ocean off the beach town of Melaque, authorities said Sunday.

Rafael Araiza, the head of the local civil defense office, said the attack occurred Saturday a short distance from the beach in Melaque, just west of the seaport of Manzanillo.

The town is in the western state of Jalisco, and is located next to the better-known beach town of Barra de Navidad.

Ariaza said the woman, 26, was swimming with her five-year-old daughter toward a floating play platform about 75 feet from the shore.

The victim was trying to boost her child aboard the floating platform when the shark bit her. The daughter was not harmed.

Ariaza said that despite a quick response by rescuers, the woman died of blood loss from the massive bite wound on her leg near the hip. She was a resident of a nearby town.

Authorities closed the beaches in Melaque and Barra de Navidad to swimming as a precaution.

Soldiers patrol the beach after the pass
Soldiers patrol the beach in Melaque, Jalisco State, Mexico on May 26, 2012.  HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/GettyImages

Shark attacks are relatively rare in Mexico. In 2019, a U.S. diver survived a shark bite on the forearm in Magdalena Bay off the Baja California Sur coast.

Cases of mistaken identity

Wildlife experts say that most shark attacks are actually a case of mistaken identity.

"The truth is — when you're in the water, if you're in a healthy marine're often never more than 100 yards from a shark," Jeff Corwin, an American biologist and wildlife conservationist, told CBS News earlier this year. "We're often interacting with these species and we don't even know about it."

Sharks are actually not dangerous to humans, the NOAA says, noting that only about a dozen of more than 300 species of sharks have been involved in human-related attacks.

"It is extremely unlikely for swimmers and surfers to be bitten by — or even encounter — sharks," Lauren Gaches, director of public affairs for NOAA Fisheries, told CBS News.

In general, unprovoked shark bites have decreased over the past decade. In 2022, there were 57 unprovoked bites worldwide, which is significantly lower than the 10-year average of 74 unprovoked bites annually, according to the University of Florida's data.

Jennifer Earl contributed to this report

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