February 25, 2008 / 9:46 PM / 12 years ago

Austrian dies of shark bite on Bahamas trip

MIAMI (Reuters) - An Austrian scuba diver died after a shark bit his leg in the Bahamas, authorities said on Monday.

The Austrian consulate in Miami identified the man as Markus Groh, 49, a lawyer from Vienna.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it sent a rescue helicopter to pick up the man on Sunday after receiving a mayday call from the Florida-based charter dive boat Shear Water, saying that a man had suffered a shark bite wound.

The victim was flown from the scene, about 5 miles north of Great Isaac Cay in the Bahamas, to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he was pronounced dead, the Coast Guard said.

Great Isaac is about 60 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“From what I heard they were on a shark diving trip, feeding the sharks,” said Ken Smiriglio, an assistant with the Austrian consulate.

The Shear Water is owned by Jim Abernethy’s Scuba Adventures of Riviera Beach, which operates scuba diving trips in which the crew puts food in the water to bring divers into close contact with hammerhead, tiger and other shark species.

On its Web site, the company says shark diving is a “potentially dangerous sport.”

“To insure the best results we will be ‘chumming’ the water with fish and fish parts. Consequently, there will be food in the water at the same time as the divers,” the site said.

The company did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Reporting by Jim Loney, editing by Michael Christie and Cynthia Osterman

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