Sydney's beaches shut after first fatal shark attack in 60 years

Bondi Beach (pictured) was also shut after a swimmer had been attacked by a shark at Little Bay beach. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS/BLOOMBERG) - Several Sydney beaches, including the iconic Bondi and Bronte, were shut down on Thursday (Feb 17) after a swimmer was killed in a shark attack, the first such fatality at the city’s beaches in nearly 60 years.  

Drum lines, which are used to bait sharks, have been set up near the attack site while drones have been deployed as officials search for if the shark is still in the area.  

A video shared online showed a shark attacking a person on Wednesday afternoon off Little Bay beach, about 20km south of Australia’s largest city and near the entrance to Botany Bay.

Emergency services were called to the beach late on Wednesday afternoon after reports a swimmer had been attacked by a shark.

Police later said human remains were found in the water. They have yet to disclose the identity of the swimmer.

A fisherman who witnessed the attack said the swimmer was taken by a great white shark about 4.5m long, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“This has been a complete shock for our community,” Dylan Parker, the mayor of Randwick Council which includes Little Bay, told Reuters. “Our coastline is our back yard and to have a tragic death under such horrifying circumstances is completely shocking.”

It is the first deadly shark attack in Sydney since 1963, when actress Marcia Hathaway was killed by a bronze whaler shark in Middle Harbour, the Herald said.

Wednesday's fatal attack comes just days before Australia reopens to international tourists on Feb 21, after almost two years of pandemic restrictions that saw the country largely cut off from the rest of the world.

A charity ocean swim at a nearby beach scheduled for Sunday was cancelled out of respect for the victim and family.

Organisers of the Murray Rose Malabar Magic Ocean Swim had considered postponing the swim till March, but said they decided to cancel it after consulting with the local council and lifesavers.

Authorities have ordered people to remain out of the water on a hot summer day as temperatures hovered around 30 deg C.  

"A few crazy surfers still go out and take the risk but most of us take notice and just stay out of the water until the sharks have gone. It’s a lot more dangerous driving, to be quite honest," local resident Karen Romalis told Reuters. 

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