Search-and-Rescue pros have explained how Cameron Robbins likely vanished after diving into the sea.
A blurry cellphone video captured the last moments of Cameron Robbins, a recent graduate from a Louisiana high school, as he swam in the waters of the Bahamas at night.
In a disconcerting turn, the camera briefly pans away, and Robbins vanishes from sight, never to be seen again.
Speculations arose that the video showed a shark approaching the 18-year-old, but seasoned scuba divers and marine search-and-rescue experts shed light on alternative scenarios.
They explain why they believe his body remains undiscovered even two weeks later, despite efforts by the coast guard and Robbins’ family, which were eventually called off after two days due to the absence of any trace of the teenager.
As Wednesday marks the two-week anniversary of Robbins’ disappearance, his family continues to grieve without any answers.
A recent obituary honoring the beloved brother, son, and grandson states, “He was lost at sea after being reported missing off the coast of Athol Island in the Bahamas on the evening of May 24. Though he left this world far too soon, he lived a life full of good friends and family. He was funny and kind-hearted, but also intense and driven.” Robbins had just graduated from the University Lab School in Baton Rouge a few days prior to his vanishing in the purportedly “shark-infested” waters near Athol Island.
The haunting video footage showcases Robbins swimming away from a rescue buoy while bystanders desperately urge him to grab hold of it. A mysterious shadow can be seen in the water only a few feet away from his location, leading some online viewers to speculate that a shark may have pulled him under.
However, experts largely dismiss this notion. Brian Trascher, vice president and spokesperson for the United Cajun Navy, a nonprofit organization collaborating with the Robbins family, stated, “We’ve consulted with oceanography and fisheries experts who don’t believe that he came in contact with any type of shark or predatory marine life. Until we obtain better video or more conclusive evidence, that will remain our position.”
Butch Hendrick, president and founder of Lifeguard Systems, a public safety dive training company, possesses extensive knowledge of Caribbean waters, including those off the coast of the Bahamas. When asked about shark attacks in the Bahamas, he commented, “I don’t hear about a lot of shark attacks in the Bahamas.” Hendrick explained that boats like the one Robbins and his classmates were on often dispose of food or accidentally spill it into the water, potentially attracting marine life, including sharks. These creatures are intelligent enough to associate the boat’s presence with the possibility of food. Hendrick, who has developed rescue methods in 15 countries, further clarified that the object seen in the water with Robbins did not exhibit typical shark behavior. He noted the absence of any blood in the water, stating, “If a shark were to hit him, that could be enough to incapacitate him or cause him to drown right there.”
Hendrick also pointed out that it is uncommon for a shark to consume an entire human after an attack. “More often, they take a bite, shake, and realize this isn’t what they wanted,” he explained. Regarding tiger sharks, known to inhabit the waters near Athol Island, Hendrick added, “They can take a very large chunk, but the likelihood of them coming back for more is slim.” So, what could have happened to Cameron Robbins?
Cristina Zenato, an experienced diver and shark and ocean conservationist based in the Bahamas, clarified that she was not directly involved in the case. However, she proposed the possibility that Robbins may have experienced hypothermia followed by drowning. In an email, Zenato explained, “From what I saw, Cameron was wearing just shorts, and might have had a certain level of alcohol in his blood, which causes vasodilation,” she wrote in an email. “Chances are he didn’t survive hypothermia which contrary to popular belief can happen in matter of an hour or so, even in Caribbean waters.”
“When he hits the water, does it simply knock the wind out of him and he can’t catch his breath?” he said.
“Knocking the wind out of himself when he hits the water is a very high possibility — now he’s struggling and he could sink.”
The current at the time would have likely also played a role, Hendricks added, as well as the possibility that Robbins could have hit his head during his descent.
“So, we don’t see the thrashing, we don’t see [blood]. A better chance that he just, he hits his head on the side of the boat or he gets the wind knocked out of him when he hits the water, he can’t catch his breath and then, in 60 seconds he’s leaving the surface.”