Colombian freediver bitten by oceanic whitetip shark during training session for AIDA competition near Caribbean island of San Andrés
Colombian freediver Cristian Castaño Villa is reported to have been bitten by an oceanic whitetip shark during a training exercise off the Colombian island of San Andrés, in the Caribbean Sea.
Castaño, 38, was training for the AIDA Freediving World Championship at the popular ‘Nirvana’ dive site earlier last week, when he was bitten on the leg by the shark. Several of the sharks had been spotted in the water prior to the incident.
After being rescued by a boat manned by staff from Coralina – the agency which monitors the UNESCO biosphere archipelago to ensure its sustainable development – Castaño was taken to hospital for treatment.
Despite being bitten, Castaño – who has broken 21 national freediving records in Colombia in all depth disciplines – remained conscious and was able to hoist himself onto the rescue boat, according to officials.
The freediving teacher was later pictured on social media with bandages across his legs and hands, reassuring views in the captions that he was ‘fine’.
According to Coralina, the oceanic whitetip most likely bit Castaño ‘out of curiosity’, as they are naturally inquisitive sharks, which have a preference for surface waters.
‘It is important to remind the community that sharks are in their natural habitat and it is humans who enter their domain,’ a Coralina spokesperson said. ‘Therefore, we must have greater respect for nature and take precautions for this type of encounter.’
The population of oceanic whitetip sharks has dropped by more than 98 per cent in the last 61 years as a result of overfishing, accidental bycatch and illegal shark finning. Its plummeting population has earned it protection from four of the major international fisheries, and a variety of conservation organisations are conducting research into the preservation of the species.