Shark Attack At Bondi Beach

posted by / News / February 13, 2009

Swimmers are being urged not to panic after the second Sydney shark attack in as many days at two of city’s most iconic locations.

Businesses at Bondi Beach fear Thursday’s attack will damage tourism to the world-famous strip of sand.

A 33-year-old local man had his hand almost severed in an attack off Bondi just a day after a navy diver was mauled by a shark in Sydney Harbour, in sight of the Opera House.

The surfer was savaged at 7.30pm (AEDT) on Thursday, when the shark locked his left arm in its jaws.

He was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital, where he underwent 10 hours of surgery to reattach the hand and remains in a serious but stable condition in intensive care.

It was the first shark attack at Bondi since 1951, and came a day after clearance diver Able Seaman Paul de Gelder was injured off Garden Island early on Wednesday.

Mr de Gelder lost a hand and may lose part of a leg after Wednesday’s attacks, believed to be by a bull shark.

Bondi Beach was closed early on Friday, but reopened around 8am (AEDT) after lifeguards declared it safe.

Despite the attack, Waverley Council Mayor Sally Betts said she was confident Bondi was a safe place to swim.

She said the sharks usually appeared early morning and in the evening to feed on fish, but were less of a threat during the day.

“Our lifeguards are quite confident that the beach is safe and that’s why they’ve opened it,” she said.

Lifesavers also said there was no cause for swimmers to panic, with shark attacks unlikely if people avoided swimming at dawn or dusk, or in murky water.

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) shark adviser, the CSIRO’s Barry Bruce, said swimmers had a much higher chance of drowning than being mauled by a shark.

Recounting Thursday’s attack, surfer James McIntosh said he was paddling out to catch another wave when other surfers signalled for him to get out of the water.

Back on shore, he stood next to the shark victim, who was holding his badly gashed hand above his head.

“His hand was just hanging by his thumb and skin,” Mr McIntosh told ABC Radio.

“He was quite wired – he looked like he was about to pass out. And he said to me … ‘Tell my wife please, and that I love her’.”

Business leaders fear tourist trade will suffer in the wake of the attack.

Bondi Chamber of Commerce vice-president Max Siano said news of the attack at the famed beach would reverberate around the world, warding off tourists.

“Usually they come down in summer time – they come down for a dip and a feed (and) if they stay for more than one day, they do a bit more shopping,” he said.

“If they are not going to have a dip, then all they are going to have is a quick trip in one of those buses, a few photos, then disappear.”

The NSW government on Friday defended its beach netting program.

“We have warned people repeatedly not to swim at dawn or at dusk,” Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said.

“These recommendations are based on scientific knowledge and people need to pay heed. Both these attacks have happened at these times, when the water was murky and the likelihood of attack greater.”

The last fatality at Bondi was in 1929, before the beach was netted in 1937.

Stay tuned – SURFING will bring you more news as it becomes available.

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