- Manuel Lopez was scuba diving for molluscs when he was attacked by shark
- Lopez, who is in his 50s, had his head torn off in the horrific shark attack
By RACHAEL BUNYAN FOR MAILONLINE
A diver was decapitated by a great white shark in front of horrified fisherman off the coast of Mexico in the first fatal shark attack of the year.
Manuel Lopez was scuba diving for molluscs near San Jose Beach in Tobari Bay on the western coast of Mexico when the 19ft-long shark attacked him on January 5.
Lopez, who was in his 50s, had his head torn off by the shark in the horrific attack.
‘He was diving when the animal attacked him, ripping off his head and biting both shoulders,’ fisherman Jose Bernal, who witnessed the attack, told Tracking Sharks. +2View gallery
Manuel Lopez was scuba diving for molluscs near San Jose Beach in Tobari Bay on the western coast of Mexico when the 19ft-long shark attacked him on January. Picture: file image of a great white shark TRENDINGJay Leno, 72, breaks his collarbone in motorcycle accident4.4k viewing nowMurdaugh trial live: Alex tells cops his son had been punched a ‘lot’3.3k viewing now‘Russia is now at war with NATO and the West’, EU official admits5.9k viewing now
Lopez had been diving without an air tank to a depth of around 59 feet to collect ax tripe, a mollusc which is like a scallop, from the ocean floor when the predator attacked him.
Bernal said some sharks had been seen in the area in the days before the attack and the crew of fishermen had been on high alert.
‘Local divers had been warned about the presence of sharks in the area and most had not been out for several days,’ Bernal said.
Many anglers had been staying onshore due to the sightings of great white sharks.
But a shortage of seafood in the area has created a high demand and Lopez, with his economic future at stake, decided to dive in what would be his final trip out.
Great White Sharks can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 2 tonnes and have up to 300 razor sharp serrated teeth arranged in rows in its giant jaws.+2View gallery
Lopez, who was in his 50s, had his head torn off by the shark in the horrific attack
The predator when attacking can swim at up to 35mph guided by an extremely powerful sense of smell but normally prey on seals, sea lions, dolphins and turtles.
Humans are often mistaken for seals especially when wearing wet suits and attacks are said by experts not to be intentional but ‘experimental’ when they bite.
They usually move away after biting once when they realise the human is not their natural prey but the damage done by just one powerful bite is often fatal.
‘Great white sharks are most prevalent in the Gulf of California during December and January when pregnant female sharks enter the area,’ Tracking Sharks said.
‘The sharks will often search for fat-filled sea lions to feed upon due to their high caloric count.’
Great white sharks: Feared predators of the deep
- Great white sharks have such a strong sense of smell that they can detect a colony of seals two miles away
- Great whites give birth to up to ten ‘pups’ but mothers will eat them if they don’t swim off fast enough
- They swim at up to 37mph at full pelt and burst out of the water from below their prey
- They attack 5-10 humans every year but usually just take a ‘sample bite’ out of curiosity before swimming off
- Great whites can live to up to 70 years old
- They are colored white underneath to make them harder to see from below with sunlight shining down
- They have several rows of teeth that can number into the thousands
- As their teeth fall out they are replaced by razor sharp teeth in the row behind