Swimmer's remains found after Sydney shark attack

16 Feb 2022 07:50pm
Photo for illustration purpose only - AFP
Photo for illustration purpose only - AFP

SYDNEY - Australian police said they had recovered human remains in the water after a horrific shark attack Wednesday at a Sydney beach.

It was the city's first fatal unprovoked shark attack since 1963.

The authorities closed down surrounding beaches for 24 hours while patrolling for the predators.

A man fishing off nearby rocks told national broadcaster ABC he saw a man in a wetsuit being dragged underwater by a large shark off the eastern suburbs beach of Little Bay.

"When he went down there were so many splashes," the man said.

"It was terrible. I am shaking," he said, describing an attack that lasted several seconds.

"I keep vomiting. It's very, very upsetting," the man told ABC. "He just went down for a swim, enjoying the day, but that shark took his life." New South Wales police said officers investigating the reported attack had found human remains in the water.

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"An investigation into the swimmer's death is ongoing, and Little Bay Beach is closed as officers continue to search the area," they said in a statement.

New South Wales emergency services dispatched a rescue helicopter and four ambulances after being alerted to the shark attack.

"Unfortunately, this person had suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of the attack and there was nothing paramedics could do when we arrived on the scene," said NSW Ambulance Inspector Lucky Phrachanh.

The local government area of Randwick closed its beaches for 24 hours, erecting signs to warn people away as part of "standard operating procedures" following a fatal shark attack.

Lifeguards will patrol the beaches looking out for sharks during that time, it said.

"Little Bay is normally such a calm, beautiful place enjoyed by families," said Randwick Mayor Dylan Parker.

- 'Chilling' -

"To lose someone in a shark attack like this is chilling. We are all in shock." Police said they would work with the state's Department of Primary Industries to investigate the circumstances of the swimmer's death.

A report would be prepared for the state coroner.

There were three fatal shark attacks across Australia last year, including two in New South Wales, according to a database compiled by the Taronga Conservation Society.

No fatalities had been recorded so far in 2022 in the state, the database showed.

The last fatality from a shark bite in Sydney was in 1963 from a person bitten by a bull shark while "standing in the water", a Taronga spokeswoman said.

Police urged beachgoers to follow safety guidance from Surf Life Saving NSW.

The organisation advises people to swim only in patrolled areas on the beach, avoid swimming at dawn, dusk and night, steer clear of schools of baitfish and keep away from river mouths or murky water.

A SharkSmart app provided by the New South Wales government alerts swimmers and surfers in real time when a shark is detected nearby.

New South Wales relies on a string of listening stations, drumlines that detect the predators, shark nets and shark-spotting drones to protect people in the water. - AFP