Shark takes dog at popular Sydney beach

File photograph of a sign declaring a shark sighting at an Australian beach.
File photograph of a sign declaring a shark sighting at an Australian beach. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (AFP) - A shark has taken a dog at a popular Sydney beach as it was fetching a stick thrown by its owner, prompting warnings for swimmers and pets to stay out of the water.

The dog, an American Staffordshire Terrier, was in the ocean at Bonna Point Reserve in Sydney's south on Sunday evening (Feb 26) when the shark attacked.

"We were just throwing the stick in the water. The tide was really far out and there was a bit of a drop off (where the water became deeper)," the dog's owner, who only wanted to be known as Nigel, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It was very quick. It just took her under the water."

The dog, Molly, was about five metres offshore at the time and has not been seen since.

"The shark was around 3.5 metres long, which is easily big enough to take a human," Nigel added.

The local Sutherland Shire Council confirmed the incident.

"Council lifeguards are at the Kurnell beaches advising swimmers and pet owners to keep out of the water and they have installed signs to alert the public to the shark sighting," it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that there had been several shark sightings in nearby Botany Bay this month.

Experts said shark attacks are increasing as water sports become more popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but human fatalities remain rare.