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Rare shark attack severely injures a boy in Mahahual, south of Tulum

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Local authorities in Mahahual say they are keeping tabs on the presence of sharks, but that there is no reason to panic or avoid the ocean altogether. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Updated to include conflicting media reports.

A 15-year-old boy was attacked by a shark while diving in the Caribbean sea off Mahahual in southern Quintana Roo, according to Diario de Yucatán.

Por Esto Quintana Roo had earlier reported a conflicting story, that the young man had been swimming in shallow waters at the time of the attack — but this version of the event is in question.

Shark attacks in Mexico are historically extremely rare, but a small uptick in incidents does seem to have taken place over the past decade or so. 

This shark attack, which left the unnamed boy’s arm severely damaged, happened over the weekend.

According to the boy’s mother, he is now stable but needs to be transferred to a highly specialized medical center. 

The family of the teen is requesting help from the community to help pay for surgery.

In March, a beach in nearby Playa del Carmen was shut down after sharks were reportedly seen swimming in the area’s shallow waters. 

Earlier: More remains of the world’s largest shark found in the depths of a cenote in Yucatán

Sharks have been known to attack humans when they are confused or curious. If a shark sees a human splashing in the water, it may try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack.

Over 70% of shark attack victims in the last decade were people engaged in activities such as surfing, water skiing, and other water sports, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History,

The real-life likelihood that a swimmer will have a close encounter with a shark is about one in 11.5 million, according to Shark Attack File, an independent website tracking shark attacks worldwide. 

Fear of shark attacks has contributed to shark overfishing and led to the extinction or severe endangerment of several species. 

Of the nearly 500 species of shark, only about 30 are known to have ever attacked a human. Great whites, tiger, and bull sharks have been responsible for the majority of human fatalities.

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