According to local government sources, the headline-grabbing shark attack on a 10-year-old American boy in Cancun was actually a barracuda attack outside of Benito Juarez municipality.
The official Twitter account of Benito Juarez City Hall tweeted out that a review of the incident found no reports of a shark attack on Cancun beaches on March 17th, 2023.
The tweet reads, “no shark attack has been registered on Cancun’s beaches, and no minor has suffered injuries for this reason, as has been falsely spread.”
A second tweet asserts that Cancun Civil Protection Management maintains constant observation over Cancun beaches and has coordinated an inquiry into the incident.
Cancun Civil Protection Management coordinated an investigation with the C5 surveillance system, Association of Hotels, Red Cross, lifeguards, and ambulances, finding that no party had attended to a shark attack.
President of Cancun Ana Paty Peralta de la Peña reported that “they are speaking of a barracuda attack that was in a different municipality.”
The alleged shark attack made headlines after Good Morning America did a feature report on the Armijo family, whose youngest son, Dillon, was the victim.
According to Dillon and his mother, Abby Armijo, several bystanders, including a lifeguard, came to Dillon’s assistance when the attack occurred.
After the incident, a family friend started a GoFundMe campaign to support the financial burden placed on the family by the medical expenses associated with the alleged attacks. As of April 8th, the campaign has raised over $20,000.
According to the GoFundMe campaign set up for the Armijo family, Dillon was playing in knee-deep water when a large wave came, bringing with it a shark that bit his leg.
“He suffered massive damage to his leg, including two broken bones, extensive nerve damage, as well as severed tendons and meniscus,” the post says.
After the bite, his mother took Dillon to the emergency room in a Cancun hospital, where he underwent surgery.
However, the injuries were so severe that he had to be medically evacuated to a hospital back in Colorado, where he would undergo 5 additional surgeries.
The money raised by the GoFundMe was used to cover medical expenses, particularly those incurred in Mexico.
The photograph on the GoFundMe shows Dillon in a hospital bed containing the logo of Amerimed Hospitals, a group of hospitals in Cancun.
Shark Attacks In Cancun
Swimmers may be comforted by the fact that shark attacks are very uncommon, particularly so in the waters of the Mexican Caribbean.
The Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File found 108 incidences of sharks attacking humans in 2022, which was tied for the lowest total in the past ten years.
Only 57 of the 108 attacks were considered unprovoked. Dillon’s case would be considered unprovoked if a shark were the attacker.
There were no recorded shark attacks in Mexico last year. The United States led all countries in shark attacks, with 41 unprovoked bites. 16 of those bites happened in Florida.
Shark attacks are particularly rare in the waters of the Riviera Maya, according to the Cancun tourist agency Aqua World.
The coastal areas around Cancun beaches are relatively shallow, keeping large sharks away from swimmers. Additionally, the most common sharks in the Mexican Caribbean are amongst the least aggressive species.
In fact, many travelers to the Mexican Caribbean who enjoy scuba diving and other activities might hope to catch a glimpse of the largely unaggressive nurse sharks, cat sharks, and reef sharks patrolling the Gulf of Mexico.
Nevertheless, the risk of attack from a shark or other form of sea life is always present, and it is advisable to always follow the advice of lifeguards and safety personnel while swimming.
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