Visitor badly bitten by barracuda at Sandbar

| 17/07/2019 | 80 Comments
Cayman News Service

(CNS): A visitor to the Cayman Islands from the United States was badly bitten at the weekend by a barracuda at the Stingray City Sandbar. Some details of the incident were posted on social media by witnesses on the same boat, and Health City Cayman Islands confirmed to CNS on Wednesday that the victim was treated there for serious injuries and is now in a stable condition.

Health officials confirmed that the man was brought to HCCI on Saturday after he came ashore at Rum Point with two severe lacerations to his right arm following the encounter with the barracuda. He was suffering from shock and had very low blood pressure because of the blood loss. Doctors treated the wounds to his arm that included a “badly torn and lacerated brachial artery” as well as significant nerve and muscle damage.

“Upon arrival, he was taken into the operating theatre for emergency surgery, in which the brachial artery as well as the damaged nerves and muscles were repaired. The surgery was an extensive one, but blood flow to the arm was successfully re-established. The patient spent the following 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit, after which he was transferred to the surgical ward, where he is now in stable condition,” the medical officials confirmed.

According to the social media reports, the man was in Cayman for a family wedding and had gone on a boat trip to Stingray City. He was not wearing jewellery, which some say attracts barracudas, nor had he been handling bait, which might have explained the attack. But it appears that the barracuda was hunting fish in the area and the man was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While such attacks are not unknown in Cayman waters, they are not common and it appears this guest was very unlucky. But with a mouth full of 2-inch long teeth and the ability to swim up to 35 miles per hour, it is a fearsome predator.

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Category: Business, Health, health and safety, Tourism

Comments (80)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I remember years ago my girlfriend and I decided to go diving nude at Royal Palms Ledge. As we went around the reef I was following her. When I checked behind me I saw 7 barracudas single filed following right behind me. They love things hanging of course, they weren’t following anything shiny either.
    I used to feed every afternoon a large green moray eel, 2 large black groupers and a barracuda. I noticed that the barracuda had to be fed first, Groupers second and moray last. A new instructor going out to the site believed that they could instruct nature to do it their way, found out it doesn’t work. The Barracuda cut the hand with the bait and took many stitches. Sometimes the natives can educate?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wishing him full and speedy recovery. A special thank you to the Health City doctors. Health City is the best thing is that happened to the Cayman Islands in the last decade.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    The revolution has started. In the words of Charlemagne: “Let my armies be the rocks and the trees – and the birds in the sky.”

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  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS, “ you are posting too fast message” appears too many times. Retyped and reposted comment appears not where intended (as a reply for example), but as a separately standing comment.

    CNS: I get this complaint periodically but I don’t know how widespread it is on this site. It’s a common glitch on many sites caused by the WordPress ‘comment flood’ prevention mechanism, where one person can make the same comment over and over. There is a fix but it would leave the site vulnerable to the thing it’s there for. I’m just hoping that in one of their frequent updates that WordPress sorts it out. Really sorry! I think some readers have found a way round it. So if anyone can help out here, feel free to chime in.

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    • Idawana B. Conspicuous says:

      @ CNS: I have gotten that message several times after making just one post. I thought it was a CNS thing…… I’m glad it isn’t. 👍

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  5. BeaumontZodecloun says:

    Mr. Barra always comes from under or behind you. He may float slowly around you, but is capable of blinding speeds, and his motivations are known only to him.

    “it appears this guest was very unlucky.” No. He was very lucky that the medical team were able to save him from severe arterial damage. Look, much as visitors love to swim with the stingrays, lets us never forget that they are STINGrays. Likewise, those fish that feed at the same table are always going to be present.

    I’m just surprised that this hasn’t happened before now. If I am in the water, I may be wary of sharks, but I am totally eyes on with Mr. Barra. He knows only “can I eat it, or can it eat me”. Nothing more. He is to be respected.

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    • Anonymous says:

      he’s my dad. Thanks for the props! He was very lucky a surgeon was on board

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      • BeaumontZodecloun says:

        Yes he is! I’m very glad he’s going to recover. I didn’t intend to suggest that he did anything wrong. It’s something I’m concerned with every time I’m in the water and see Mr. Barra.

        All best

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      • Anonymous says:

        @9:21pm – so glad it wasn’t worse and your dad is on the way to recovery. Kudos to everyone who helped to save this gentleman’s life. All the best to your family and a speedy recovery for your dad.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the government should take notice. Maybe it is just too crowded at the sand bar now and of course with humans in the middle of hunting, feeding and breeding it is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Government gets blamed for a lot of things but fish behaviour is a new one

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      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think (s)he was blaming the government but rather humans that feed wildlife then get upset when bit. I think (s)he is suggesting the government may need to step in through their public safety role although I think this maybe overkill if this is an isolated incident.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    3:34pm so well stated!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I love seeing sharks like I love seeing puppies but I keep both eyes on a barra.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Steve Irwin, The Crocodile hunter, died after being pierced in the heart by a stingray barb while filming an underwater documentary. He wasn’t a rookie. .

    White tiger viciously attacked magician Roy Horn in 2003 during Siegfried & Roy’s Las Vegas show.

    Wild beasts are unpredictable.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He wasn’t a rookie he was an idiot.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Wow.

      • Ozzy Man says:

        Hold your tongue. Steve Irwin was a diamond.

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        • Anonymous says:

          A diamond maybe to you but to those of us who make a living from StingRay City tours he was stupid.Here in Cayman we are still hurting from his childish behaviour.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Hurting how?? The sandbar is totally overcrowded every single day of the week! We must have the most obese/over fed stingrays on the planet!

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          • Anonymous says:

            You the same ones picking them up out of the water?

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            • Anonymous says:

              No we don’t never have.Most of us grew up knowing better we didn’t need folks from overseas telling us what’s best for wild life.

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              • Anonymous says:

                “Folks from overseas” have a motivation of conservation and preservation, not money. You know your craft and make a living off it, and that’s fine.

                Never besmirch Steve Irwin, though, whose motivation was education, global awareness and the wonder of nature. It is ironic that his works cost him his life, but somehow, also kind of fitting. He died doing what he loved.

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          • Anonymous says:

            I hope every time you who make a living from Stingray City, lifts a stingray out of the water so a tourist can take a picture and you can make extra tips, that it barbs you and the tourist. Steve Irwin did more for animal and nature awareness than you and the whole lot of you tour boat wannabe captains will ever do in 10 life times.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Well he should have been smart enough to do it here in Cayman where stupid boat Captains have been taking tourist for fifty years and never an accident.

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              • Anonymous says:

                Oh really, over turned tourist boat ring any bells, or maybe the drownings?
                The Sandbar is an accident just waiting to happen. Just because something is rare or unlikely,
                doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Quit right an idiot. He was molesting the stingray, chasing it around, that then buried itself in the sand. Steve swam over the top and the stingray used its protective weapon.

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    • Divergal says:

      Irwin swam up too close above the ray from behind and his shadow spooked the ray who flipped his tail up barbing Irwin in the heart. As a diver, I never come up too close to a resting ray from behind. Unfortunate for his family.

    • Anonymous says:

      Irwin, whilst bringing animal behaviour to the masses and educating tv audiences worldwide, was a showman whose stupid stunts were inevitably going to catch up with him.
      Stingrays are shark food, and Irwin, dressed in a wet suit and swimming directly above a bull stingray, looked like a shark. He knew better, but pushed his luck once too often and paid the price when the ray struck to defend itself.
      Lesson here? Well yes. Don’t keep pushing your luck with wild creatures, because they will react. Starfish Point is now almost empty of Starfish due to the floods of tourists mistreating them on a daily basis. From dozens to a dozen or so on a good day.
      Well done Cayman, your exploitation is destroying the very thing you rely on for income.
      Soon there will only be jacks and barracuda at the Sandbar, the rays will be elsewhere or dead due to sunscreen and fuel poisoning or the high cholesterol diet caused through overfeeding squid.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Lighten up sunshine. Things aren’t that dire. What we should do is learn from this event, and much of what we can learn is that anomalies happen.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    This is amazing. I have noticed recently that all types of creatures are attacking humans.
    It is as though creation is pissed off with the way that we have disrespected it.
    The earth folk will say that this is karma from Gaia, atheists call it climate change, and Christians call it judgement.

    “And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Rev 6:8

    It would appear that the “beasts of the earth” are moving in power against us, the poor stewards of this once-perfect planet.

    Unless we change the way we think, we are screwed.
    I choose to walk in humility before our Creator.

    Father God, please open our eyes.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When the christians went to Africa they had their bibles the Africans had the land.They told them let us pray.When they opened their eyes the christians had the land and Africans had the bibles.Save the BS we’ve been listening to same crap for 3,000 years.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Nice story bro, but it doesn’t really relate to what the poster was saying.

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        • Anonymous says:

          It doesn’t?

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        • Anonymous says:

          What they are getting at, is that people use religion for naught or to explain things that can’t be explained. The Earth is a a vessel for life yes, but it the earth is also alive itself. Climate change is just that a change in climate, the earth has been bombarded by meteors the wiped nearly all life, yet here we are today. The Earth has experienced multiple ices ages and “global warming.” Its all part of the Earths life cycle, and yes I mean a life cycle. When the sun burns out approximately 7.5 billion years from now. All warm blooded animals will die, plants will die, the oceans will freeze, the land will be barren. If you wanna call that “The End Times” because some book written by people that heard the voice of “GOD.” Then yes it is Gaia’s revenge, she is purging herself on the virus known as human-kind. OR A BARRACUDA (PREDATOR) BIT SOMEONE WHILE AS PEOPLE WERE FEEDING STINGRAYS SQUID (PREY). The sky is not falling Chicken Little! Not today at least!

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          • Anonymous says:

            @9:47am

            And where did you get your information? I presume you read it? But your sources can’t be questioned right?

        • Anonymous says:

          Nor is he right, Africans still have the land. It’s wealth, well that’s a different story.

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      • Anonymous says:

        There are the same people who will get a lion or tiger cub and raise it up to adulthood and act surprise when it tears them apart because the thousands of years of their wild nature decided to exert itself over the 10 years of being a house cat.

      • Anonymous says:

        And killing each other and selling your opposing tribes to the Arabs and white Man for just as long.
        When you stop killing each other then you may get sympathy.
        Africans, Jamaicans and African Americans have made their own history based upon violence towards their own people.
        The black man has killed more of his own than has ever been enslaved or murdered by any other race.

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    • Anonymous says:

      No, Christians don’t call it judgement. We call it an unfortunate accident.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your a Nut!

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    • Juniper says:

      Nice story, bro. Needs more dragons

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Same here,swimming with them all my life growing up in NS never ever heard of a Barra attack.Something fishy here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I was there and am a family friend. Based on what the captain saw, the Barra was chasing a jack and mistook his arm for the jack. It was a freak accident.

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    • Friend of the survivor says:

      I am a family friend and was there with him. According to the captain who saw it happen from the boat, the barra was chasing another fish and apparently mistook his arm for the fish. It was a freak accident.

  12. Say it like it is says:

    I used to do a lot of spearfishing years ago and also encountered barracudas quite frequently. They never troubled me only the fish on my spear line. I also have never heard of this before in these circumstances.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    He is lucky it was’nt a Hammerhead

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. dart. clean this ocean up now. What if I that had been a child!!

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Always swim with barras while freediving. They love to follow me around and see if I’m hunting anything they can salvage.

    They’re pretty chill.. Never heard of something like this happening before.

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    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t try to feed them do you? That’s what happened here. I remember a moray attack with very similar injuries caused simply because someone tried to put food in its mouth. I’ve done re-breather dives where the cudas let me get right up eye-to-eye with them. They don’t attack – they feed.

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      • Anonymous says:

        That is actually NOT what happened here. The article clearly states that the man was NOT attempting to feed any of the aquatic life. Read the article and know your facts before you just comment on something you know nothing about.

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        • Anonymous says:

          9:19 That may be what the article says but do you believe it because I don’t? I was diving off Little Cayman with a photographer who was feeding the fish and a fairly large Cuda came barreling through the swarm and almost took his camera out. Up until them the only ones we’d seen, and there had been quite a few around, were just hanging out ignoring us. Unless there’s an incentive to attack they’ll leave you alone.

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          • Friend of the family and first-hand observer says:

            I am a family friend and was there. He was just standing on the sandbar with the rest of the passengers. We were not feeding the sting rays, though other groups on the sandbar might have been. Apparently, the cuda was chasing another fish who mistook his arm for the fish when it swam by him. Freak accident!

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          • Anonymous says:

            The “incentive” here was apparently a jack fish that the barracuda had been following. Very unfortunately, the man ended up in the middle of the hunt.

            Here’s what the article says (**emphasis added**): “[The man] was not wearing jewellery, which some say attracts barracudas, **nor had he been handling bait**, which might have explained the attack. But it appears that the barracuda was hunting fish in the area and the man was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

            The article continues, “While such attacks are not unknown in Cayman waters, they are not common and it appears this guest was very unlucky.” My own research has confirmed that, not surprisingly, such accidents do happen on rare occasions when humans and wildlife intermingle in the ocean (or elsewhere).

        • Anonymous says:

          You read the article my friend. It nowhere says he wasn’t feeding the fish. Sheesh. Now lighten up.

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        • Anonymous says:

          With all the boats at the sandbar, there is always squid floating around in the water. The last time we took guests there the stingrays were so over feed they would not eat.

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          • Anonymous says:

            LOL Right. A piece of squid just floating around…?? Well THAT is certainly not true. Drop a piece and see how long it remains uneaten.

        • Anonymous says:

          9:19 If you were dumb enough to be get caught out there with food would you admit it? That’s the problem. Remember the spate of shark attacks in shallow water on the Red Sea coast in 2010? It was all shock and horror in the press but real the cause was simply idiots feeding the fish attracting the sharks. People do dumb things then refuse to admit it.

        • Anonymous says:

          You’re a misleader. Stop misleading.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’ve been luck @17/07/2019 @ 2:59. Barras are notorious for biting people on the face if snorkling/diving because they are attracted to the shiny reflective scales of fish and at the right angle, your mask and watch face become shiny reflective surfaces. This kind of attack by a barracuda is not rare or uncommon, it’s what it does. This poor person was just unfortunate.

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