Young shark attack victim identified as Khai Cowley: 'Very sad'

One local described the tragic attack – the fifth shark attack in SA waters this year – as 'a bit of an eye-opener'.

The teenage boy who was killed in a horror shark attack off the coast of South Australia has been identified as Khai Cowley as friends and family pay tribute to the young surfer who was "taken too soon".

The 15-year-old boy was in the water near Ethel Beach on the remote Yorke Peninsula, where it's believed he was visiting with his father, when the fatal incident occurred on Thursday.

Emergency services responded to reports of a shark attack at around 1.30pm. "Sadly the body of a teenage boy was recovered from the water," an SA Police spokesperson said.

The youngster had been "suddenly taken ... by a white pointer at Ethel Wreck," Khai's aunt, Lauryn Barley wrote on a GoFundMe campaign set up for the family. The young teen was reportedly 30 to 40 metres offshore when he was mauled by the shark with his father nearby.

Khai cowley shark attack victim
Khai Cowley, 15, was killed in a horror shark attack off the coast of South Australia. Source: Facebook

The 450m long Ethel Beach is a popular surf and tourist spot with a sealed access road. The Adelaide Advertiser reported Khai was a tourist to the area, which is about 300km from Adelaide by car.

A local fisherman told the newspaper large sharks in nearby waters are not uncommon. "We've seen some pretty big bronzies in the area, but that’s normal here," he said.

Meanwhile, Marion Bay resident and surfer Luke Sykora told the ABC the attack was nonetheless a "tragic" and very rare incident.

"I have a seen a fair few sharks here over 22 years but that is the first fatal attack that we’ve had down here," he said. "I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone … to even be at the same beach at the same time. I think the town would be mourning – I think it's very sad and very tragic and a bit of an eye-opener."

Khai cowley shark attac victim surfing
Khai was visiting the area with his father when he was attacked in the water. Source: Facebook

Tributes flow for young surfer

Tributes are flowing on social media for the "respectful kid" who had a "passion for surfing". Surfing South Australia said Khai was "very much loved by his surfing peers and he will be greatly missed out in our community and on the water."

Mourning the boy's death, another said it "doesn't feel real". "Words can’t describe how much we are all gonna miss you. RIP," someone else wrote.

Khai's death was the fifth shark attack in South Australian waters in 2023, three of which were fatal.

with NCA newswire

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.