Sydney shark attack: Surprising scenes just hours after tragedy

·Environment Editor
·5-min read

Sydney surfers have returned to the water one day after a vicious shark attack claimed the life of a swimmer at Little Bay.

Up to 40 people were ordered out of the water by lifeguards at nearby Coogee Beach before 8am and at 11am the waters were deserted.

A patrol vehicle lapped the shoreline, ensuring beachgoers confined themselves to sunbaking on the sand.

"We’ve been telling people to get out, that’s all we can do at the moment," a lifeguard told Yahoo News Australia.

Bondi Beach on Thursday morning showing a beach closed sign with a small number of surfers still in the water.. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
A small number of swimmers and surfers defied orders not to swim at Bondi Beach after a shark killed a man at nearby Little Bay hours earlier. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo

'Tried not to think about it': Bondi surfers defy water ban

While 13 of the city’s iconic eastern beaches closed, a handful of defiant surfers took to the water at Bondi Beach, just 10km north of Little Bay.

Despite its proximity to where the attack occurred, the mood at Bondi Beach felt generally relaxed.

Paddington resident Leigh spoke to Yahoo News Australia as she packed her board into her car after a morning surf at Bondi.

She said despite the fatality it was her personal opinion that the chance of being attacked was “remote” and she thought the shark may have swam a “long distance” by now.

“I sort of figure that there’s a big shark in the water with me nearly every time I go out and we just live with them,” she said.

“And I’ve tried not to think about it.”

Canadian traveller Jane said she was unaware there had been a shark fatality. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Canadian traveller Jane said she was unaware there had been a shark fatality. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo

Bondi man Mark said he had been surfing all morning, but he always leaves the water if there are prey species around like bait fish.

He urged swimmers to watch for fishing boats and try to avoid them as they could attract apex predators like sharks.

“If there’s bait fish swimming out here, you get out of the water because there’s usually bigger fish chasing them,” he said.

“That’s sort of the law of the sea and unfortunately, probably not enough people know the natural laws of the ocean.”

Expert urges beachgoers to obey authorities after shark attack

Despite the reluctance of some surfers to obey the shark warnings, Bondi was generally quiet for a day when temperatures rose above 30 degrees.

Dr Leonardo Guida, a shark expert from Australian Marine Conservation Society, advised all beachgoers to comply with directions from authorities.

“I would advise all beachgoers to obey any direction from NSW fisheries and if in doubt, contact them before making your decision,” he said.

“The ocean is a big blue wilderness and has to be respected as such, even if it is a 'city' beach.”

Closer to where the attack occurred, Coogee Beach's waters were deserted. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Closer to where the attack occurred, Coogee Beach's waters were deserted. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo

Randwick City Council, where the tragedy occurred, issued a statement advising beaches within their borders would remain closed throughout Thursday as monitoring for further shark activity continues.

"It is our hope that people follow the instructions of the Beaches Closed signs while this surveillance continues," it said.

Waverley Council urged beachgoers advised Bondi Beach, Tamarama and Bronte were also closed.

"We encourage everyone to stay safe and always follow the instructions of our lifeguards," a spokesperson said.

Overseas tourist unaware of shark attack plans swim

While there were some signage across Bondi indicating that the waters were closed, and alerts on social media, not every beachgoer had noticed them.

Dylan (left) and Mark (right) both entered the water at Bondi Beach a day after the shark attack. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Dylan (left) and Mark (right) both entered the water at Bondi Beach a day after the shark attack. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Leigh decided to go surfing on Thursday despite a shark attack yesterday. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Leigh decided to go surfing on Thursday despite a shark attack yesterday. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo

Jane, who was visiting from Canada, and enjoying the sunshine said she hadn’t heard about the shark attack.

Another visitor to Australia, British man Dylan, said he was aware of the attack but went for a swim anyway.

“I think the news of the shark attack was pretty horrendous and terrifying, but can people stop swimming forever?” he said.

“If we’re worried of predators attacking us, then that's the risk you take.

“If you’re too worried you don’t go in the water, and if you’re not too worried then it’s your call.”

Surfers upset by fatality but call for shark to be spared

At Little Bay itself, the mood remained sombre, with a chopper, jet ski and patrol boats scouring the deserted waters for the shark and human remains.

With the beach roped off the area was deserted but for golfers at a nearby course, and a smattering of people working in media, police and surf lifesaving.

Shark attacks in Sydney are rare, and no fatalities have occurred since the early 1960s.

Authorities continued their search for human remains and the shark at Little Bay. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo
Authorities continued their search for human remains and the shark at Little Bay. Source: Michael Dahlstrom / Yahoo

At Bondi, beachgoers expressed heartbreak at the loss of life, but overwhelmingly said they hoped authorities would not take vengeance on the shark.

“I think live and let live,” Dylan from the UK said, adding that “it’s as much the shark's ocean as it is ours”.

Leigh from Paddington said she hoped patrol boats would “leave it alone”.

“We kill more of them than they kill us, so I think live and let live,” she said.

with Tom Flanagan

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