A 35-year-old British diving instructor was identified as the person killed in a shark attack at a Sydney beach, Australian media reported on Friday, as officials reopened city beaches after the first fatal attack off Sydney in 60 years.
Simon Nellist, who moved to Australia about six years ago, was killed on Wednesday off Little Bay beach, about 20 km south of Australia’s largest city while training for a weekend charity swim event, reports said, citing his friends.
“The news hit us like a truck,” friend Della Ross told Channel Seven. “He loved water, he loved diving…everything that is connected to Simon, to me is connected to the ocean.”
Organisers of the Murray Rose Malabar Magic Ocean Swim said they had cancelled the charity event scheduled for Sunday out of respect for the victim and family.
Nellist, a former UK Royal Air Force serviceman, was a member of a city scuba diving club and a regular swimmer at the beach. Police have not yet formally identified the victim.
Authorities set up drumlines, which are used to bait sharks, near the attack site, while drones and helicopters were searching to see if the shark was still in the area.
A video shared online showed the attack, with experts saying a white shark of at least 3 metres (9.8 feet) was likely responsible.
Local Randwick City mayor Dylan Parker said there had been no further sighting of sharks in the area and allowed several beaches to reopen after shutting them on Thursday, including the city’s iconic Bondi beach.
Shark attacks near Sydney’s beaches are rare due to the presence of specially designed “shark nets” that reduce the chance of a shark attack but do not create a total barrier between swimmers and sharks. It was the first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963, data showed.