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A man who was decapitated by a great white shark in Mexico was likely a victim of “mistaken identity”, experts have claimed.
Manuel Lopez, a fisherman diving to collect molluscs in Mexico, had his head bitten off by a 5.8-metre great white shark on January 5.
The incident took place in Tobari Bay along the Gulf of California off Mexico, but experts reckon that Manuel wasn’t the intended target.
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Often humans who fall victim to shark attacks are bitten in the leg and, when the shark realises it doesn't have a seal or similar in its mouth, lets go.
But one of the surviving fishermen said that they saw the beast "impressively ripping off his head and biting both shoulders”.
Speaking toLiveScience, experts explained why these incidents are particularly rare.
Greg Skomal, a marine biologist at the University of Boston and head of the shark program at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, reckoned it was a case of “mistaken identity”.
In agreement, the director of the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach Chris Lowe, told the outlet: "As rare as shark bites on humans can be, decapitation is even more rare.”
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A third expert, Gavin Naylor, a marine biologist at the University of Florida who also manages the International Shark Attack Files (ISAF), told the publication: "If sharks are excited and hungry, they make rash decisions and bite what — in the heat of the moment — they consider a potential prey item.
"Remember that predators have to think quickly.”
Hesitation, he said, "can leave them hungry."
According to the ISAF, roughly 60% of shark attacks on humans occur in what is considered murky water.
The water quality in the most recent attack is not known at the time of writing.
Naylor also reckoned the fishing that was going on at the time of the attack could well have “lured the shark to the area”.
He said: "Any time someone is fishing — whether for fishes or invertebrates like scallops or lobster — sharks are drawn to the smells in the water and the vibrations of struggling animals.”
Skomal added: "It is also possible that [due to his position on the seafloor] he resembled a sea lion foraging.”
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