MELAQUE, Mexico — A 26-year-old mother tragically lost her life while bravely rescuing her 5-year-old daughter from a shark attack off the coast of Melaque on Saturday. Maria Fernandez Martinez Jimenez, a former marine biology student at the University of Guadalajara, was swimming with her daughter when she spotted a shark in the water. Without hesitation, she rushed to propel her child onto a floating play platform away from harm.
In a distressing video shared on social media, the aftermath of the attack was captured as Jimenez lay motionless on the sand, her leg severed by the shark. Bystanders near the Pacific Ocean could be heard shouting in horror as they realized the extent of her injuries.
Rafael Araiza, the head of the local civil defense office, recounted the tragic incident. The young mother had successfully placed her daughter out of harm’s way when the predator lunged, clamping its jaws around her leg near the hip. Despite the prompt response from rescuers, Jimenez succumbed to the loss of blood from her severe wound.
Officials from the municipality of Cihuatlan said the harrowing incident occurred during a swimming race nearby. “Our officials were carrying out support activities during a swimming event in the bay when they received reports of a person who was having problems getting out of the sea,” the statement read.
The authorities have not yet determined the species of the shark involved in the fatal attack. In response to the incident, beaches in Melaque and the nearby town of Barra de Navidad have been closed to swimming as a precautionary measure.
Shark attacks are relatively uncommon in Mexico. In 2019, a US diver survived a shark bite on the forearm in Magdalena Bay off the Baja California Sur coast.
The heartbreaking incident serves as a reminder of the tremendous sacrifice and bravery displayed by parents when their children’s lives are at stake. Jimenez’s heroic act to protect her daughter from harm ultimately cost her own life. The community mourns the loss of a young woman with a promising future ahead of her in the field of marine biology.