11 January 2006

Bull sharks blamed for swimmer’s death

A bull shark – and perhaps a group of the animals - is thought to have been responsible for the fatal attack on a young swimmer off Queensland, Australia on 7 January.

Sarah Whiley, 21, was swimming with three friends from a beach at Amity Point, on North Stradbroke Island opposite Brisbane. She is reported to have been in waist/chest-deep water when the attack occurred in late afternoon.

Whiley, who came from the Brisbane area, was pulled from the sea conscious, despite having been badly mauled on both arms, her torso and right leg. Helpers did their best to stem blood loss before Whiley was airlifted to the city’s hospital where, despite emergency surgery, she could not be saved.

Queensland police said that, from Whiley's injuries, it is likely that more than one shark was involved in the attack. Bull sharks, which inhabit the area in appreciable numbers, are thought to have been responsible.

A coastal species, bulls have evolved to hunt effectively in shallow, if necessary murky water, with well developed senses other than sight. Whiley was attacked after a storm that had whipped up sediment, making the sea very cloudy.

Legendry sharks documentary film-maker Valerie Taylor has told ABC TV that she hopes the attack on Whiley will not trigger general fear. Whiley had tragically not understood that swimming off a murky Amity Point at the time she did was risky.

"The sharks would come up that…channel to the beach [Amity Point beach falls away into deep water] on a rising tide, late afternoon, looking for any food that might wash off the beach, and nature intends them to do this," said Taylor. In murky conditions the sharks would have "felt with their teeth".

She asked the public not to "go out on a mad hunt for sharks", and said she hoped that Whiley's death would not deter swimmers, as generally "the danger is very, very small".

Source: www.divernet.com/news


Post a Comment

<< Home