A British swimmer has died in the first fatal shark attack in Sydney, Australia since 1963, officials say. While reportedly training for a charity swim in Little Bay beach, Simon Nellist, 35, was attacked by a shark in waters close to the shore, resulting in catastrophic injuries that he sadly succumbed to.
Nellist was reportedly a skilled diving instructor and lover of the ocean, and was training for the Malabar Magic Ocean Swim, which has since been canceled out of respect.
The attack at Little Bay has left residents stunned, being the first fatal attack to have occurred in the area in 59 years and at a beach typically considered one of the safest in Sydney. There is now an investigation underway as to how the incident happened, and officials continue to look for the remains of the man.
“Based on footage provided by the public, including eyewitness accounts, DPI shark biologists believe that a white shark, at least three metres in length, was likely responsible,” the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said in a statement.
“We heard a yell and then turned around, it looked like a car just landed in the water, a big splash then the shark,” said Kris Linto, witness to the incident, in a statement to 9 News.
"It was really bad."
Little Bay and surrounding beaches will all reopen Friday after a 24-hour closure as there have been no further sightings.
Shark attacks are extremely rare, particularly with new monitoring measures in place around Australia. Not including this attack, there have been three unprovoked shark attacks in Australia this year, all resulting in injuries but were non-fatal. There were two deaths due to sharks last year in the country, meaning you are more likely to die from a horse, cow or kangaroo than you are a shark. However, that may be due to our extremely low exposure to the ocean predator, and steps should be taken when swimming in areas frequented by sharks to minimize the risk.
According to SurfLifeSaving NSW, swimmers should always swim in patrolled locations between red and yellow flags, avoid swimming in early and late hours, avoid swimming around river mouths and murky waters, and avoid swimming around schools of baitfish.