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Man in intensive care after shark attack in Caribbean

Peter Smith was holidaying with his wife at Courland Bay, Tobago.

Peter Smith was holidaying with his wife at Courland Bay, Tobago. Photo: TND/Booking.com

A British tourist was savaged by a shark on the last day of his Caribbean island holiday while wading in waist-deep water only 10 metres from the shore.

Peter Smith, 64, a retired IT worker, was mauled by a bull shark estimated to be three metres long on the north coast of Tobago on Friday (local time).

Doctors desperately tried to “save life and limb” as Smith underwent surgery for his horrific wounds.

He remains in intensive care in a “stable” condition in Scarborough General Hospital.

“Some reattachments were done, of fingers for example, and hopefully that will save those fingers,” Chief Secretary Farley Augustine said.

“We know that there’s significant wounds on one of his legs that cannot be completely closed, but he will require extensive work.

“The task at this time for our health professionals is really to stabilise and ensure that we can save life and limb as much as possible.”

The victim sustained injuries to his left hand, left thigh and stomach, the Tobago House of Assembly said.

The terrifying attack happened near the Starfish Hotel, in Courland Bay, as other tourists were swimming in the water and relaxing on the sand.

Starfish Resort on the beach at Courland Bay. Photo: Booking.com

Witness Orion Jakerov said people in the water were completely unaware there was a shark lurking among them.

He told local broadcaster TTT Live: “I don’t think they saw it. They were in about waist deep to shoulder high water, so they weren’t out of their depth.

“I think their backs were turned and they were just kind of lounging around. Nobody saw the shark coming.”

He said while Smith was under attack, other people in the water were “physically trying to fight off the shark.”

Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean country near Venezuela and is part of the West Indies.

There have been only two recorded shark attacks at Tobago in the last 20 years and both were hundreds of kilometres off the island.

Smith, from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, had been holidaying on the island with his wife and friends and had been due to fly home that day.

The island of Tobago, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Photo: Getty

The local government was working closely with the British High Commission, Augustine said.

Several beaches and coastal areas were closed.

A $US10,000 ($15,300) bounty previously offered to anyone who could capture the shark was later retracted.

There were 69 unprovoked attacks and 22 provoked shark bites worldwide in 2023, with 14 fatalities, the Florida-based International Shark Attack File says.

-with AAP

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