Sydney shark attack victim's family speaks out: 'Wonderful human'

The 35-year-old swimmer who was killed by a shark off a Sydney beach is being remembered as a "wonderful human being" by his family back in the UK.

Simon Nellist, 35, was killed by a great white shark while in the water at Little Bay in Sydney's east on Wednesday afternoon.

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Nellist's family said he was much loved by those in his life.

"Simon was a gentle, kind and wonderful human being. He was a cherished fiance, son, brother, uncle and friend," the family said.

"Simon was funny, compassionate and always had time for people. He had a rare gift of instantly being able to connect with others, gaining their trust and respect."

Pictured is Simon Nellist, the man who was killed by a shark in Sydney.
Simon Nellist was attacked by a shark while training for the Malabar Ocean Swim when he was attacked. Source: 9News

Mr Nellist grew up in Cornwall, in the UK, before moving to Australia and making it his home with his fiancee, Jessie.

His family said he was an experienced diving instructor and a talented photographer. They added Mr Nellist had a "great passion" for nature and the ocean.

Speaking to MailOnline, Mr Nellist's family said they didn't want the shark responsible for the fatal attack to be killed.

"I don’t think Simon would want the shark to be killed. He loved nature," his aunt, Jacqui Seager, said.

"He swam with sharks before. This isn’t the first time he’s gone out and seen them but he would still go out swimming. That’s brave.

"I don’t think he ever thought they would hurt him. Sadly, this time it managed to get to him."

Pictured is Simon Nellist in the water.
Mr Nellist's family said he was "gentle, kind" and was cherished by his loved ones. Source: 9News

Mr Nellist's death is reportedly the first fatal shark attack to happen in Sydney since the 1960s.

It is believed he was training for the five-kilometre Malabar Ocean Swim, due to take place this weekend when he was killed.

The event has been cancelled for the year in the wake of Mr Nellist's death.

"The organising committee extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of Simon Nellist who was so tragically taken," a statement regarding the cancellation said.

"Out of respect for Simon and his family, and following wide consultation with Randwick Council and experienced, senior Surf Life Saving personnel, we believe that cancelling the 2022 swim is appropriate."

With AAP

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