Marine Expert Explains Increased Shark Activity in Little Bay After First Fatal Attack in 60 Years

A marine expert from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is shedding light on what may have triggered the deadly shark activity in Little Bay which took the life of British diving instructor and Royal Air Force veteran Simon Nellist. 

Iain Suthers, a professor at UNSW, said that sharks should be swimming towards the cooler sections of the Tasman Sea during this season, where planktons are abundantly attracted to small fish.

It’s the small fish that bigger fish like sharks feed on but the shark that attacked Mr Nellist might have not been able to swim towards the colder water as the East Australian Current has brought uncharacteristically warmer waters this year. 

Sometimes, sharks could just bump into humans as they swim towards the Tasman sea. This time, however, the hungry shark preyed on the man.

The professor believes the animal might have been a great white, which has a propensity for hunting warm-blooded animals, based on the victim’s injuries. 

Prof Suthers, however, emphasised that this shark attack is a rare occurrence. It has been nearly 60 years since the last fatal shark attack on Sydney’s beaches. 

The expert said that the public needs to understand the nature and movement of sharks, as well as the conditions in the water, to come up with better measures to prevent another injury or death. It would also be impossible to forecast a looming shark attack since there is still no proven “scientific reason ” why sharks suddenly go after humans. 

Instead, he said that swimmers should avoid swimming in dangerous sections of the beach during dusk or dawn during the summer months, when sharks are actively moving towards the Tasman Sea’s colder areas. 

Meanwhile, the NSW Department of Primary Industries has deployed SMART shark drumlines in the beaches from Bondi to Cronulla for the safety of beachgoers. At least six of these drumlines are now on the beaches between Little Bay and Malabar. 

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Family and friends of Mr Nellist said he has been advocating for this improved technology for years and an aunt said that he likely would not want his attacker to be killed as he is a nature lover who has swum with sharks before.