SYDNEY – Many of Sydney’s iconic beaches, including famed Bondi Beach, were closed on Thursday after an ocean swimmer was killed by a shark, the first fatal attack in the city in nearly six decades, reported announced the authorities.
The man, who has not been identified, was swimming in the town’s small bay, a popular spot for families, on Wednesday afternoon when he was attacked by an unknown species of shark. The animal is thought to be up to 16ft long and authorities are still looking for it.
Local officials closed a stretch of beaches along the city’s east coast, saying the shark could still pose a threat to the public.
“The coast is our community’s backyard,” Dylan Parker, the mayor of Sydney’s Randwick area, said on Wednesday. “Little Bay is normally such a quiet and beautiful place, loved by families. Losing someone to a shark like this is scary. We are all in shock.
The swimmer visited the Little Bay area almost daily, according to local accounts. The New South Wales Ambulance Service said he appeared to be wearing a wetsuit as he swam just off the rocks under a fisherman before the shark attack. The service said human remains were found in the water, adding that the man died of “catastrophic injuries” despite a quick response from medical services.
Sydney’s last fatal shark attack was in 1963 when a shark bit a 32-year-old woman standing in shallow water about 20ft offshore. Another person was bitten and injured in 2018 in the Randwick area.
Shark attacks are heavily covered in the media and cloud the minds of swimmers and surfers, although such attacks are relatively rare in Australia. The country averages around one fatal shark attack per year, but that number increased in 2020, when there were eight fatal attacks, and in 2021, when there were three, according to the Australian Shark Incident Database.
“It’s their domain and their habitat and I think when we all decide to go in the water we have to understand that it’s their domain,” said Steven Pearce, head of Surf Life Saving New South Wales at Sydney Morning Herald. “Saying this from what happened yesterday is shocking, it makes everyone sick just thinking about it and our thoughts and hearts go out so much to the family and friends of the victim. .”
The New South Wales government said last year it planned to spend A$500,000 to help prevent and manage shark attacks in the coming years. Officials said the money would be used for drones that would patrol surfing events as well as shark-specific first aid training.