A shark tore off a French woman’s hands and bit into her chest Monday during a rare attack in the Pacific islands of Polynesia, according to reports.
The woman, a 35-year-old tourist, had been swimming during a whale-watching trip off the island of Mo’orea, a French overseas territory, when the attack occurred.
Firefighter Jean-Jacques Riveta told AFP there were two nurses who happened to be at the scene and administered first aid.
“When we got to the hotel jetty, she was conscious but in a critical condition. She had lost a lot of blood and both her hands had been cut off at the forearm," along with part of her chest, he said.
The woman was airlifted 11 miles to the island of Tahiti where her condition stabilized, the Telegraph reported.
The shark was identified as an oceanic whitetip, once described by the notorious conservationist and oceanographic researcher Jacques Cousteau as “the most dangerous of sharks.” The oceanic whitetip has been known to attack survivors of shipwrecks or downed aircraft.
Still, attacks near land are extremely rare, given that the animals prefer to reside in off-shore, deep-ocean areas.