The victim of a fatal shark attack in Sydney’s east has been identified as a local man and an “avid diver”.
The man was identified by multiple outlets as 35-year-old Wolli Creek man and “avid diver” Simon Nellist.
He died of catastrophic injuries after being attacked by what witnesses say was a four and a half meter great white shark in Little Bay.
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet called it a “horrific tragedy” on Thursday, saying the government had expressed sympathy for the man’s family.
“It reminds us all of the fragility of life,” the prime minister said.
“May I also tell people across our state that we have closed a number of beaches on the advice of the Department of Primary Industries and the police, so please follow those instructions.”
The deadly shark attack is the first in Sydney for almost 60 years.
Police confirmed to AAP that they used DNA technology to identify the victim.
Randwick Council closed a number of beaches including Little Bay, Malabar, Maroubra, Coogee, Clovelly and La Perouse for 24 hours.
“Our whole community is thinking today of the family and friends of the victim,” Randwick Mayor Dylan Parker said in a council statement.
“It is a shocking tragedy that our region will feel for a long time.”
The council said another assessment will take place on Thursday afternoon to determine whether it will reopen on Friday.
But that did not deter members of the public from bathing at nearby Clovelly Beach in defiance of council instructions.
Lifeguards patrolled the beaches on jet skis and used drones to check for shark sightings along the coast.
The Department of Primary Industries has installed six SMART drumlines between Little Bay and Malabar as part of a shark incident response plan, the council said.
SMART battery lines are a new technology that can intercept target sharks beyond the surf break.
University of Sydney scholar Chris Pepin-Neff, who focuses on policy responses to shark attacks, said “this was not a typical event”.
He supported the authorities’ decision to close nearby beaches.
“While killing individual sharks does not reduce the risk of shark bites, educating the public to stay out of the water when sharks are close to shore makes a difference,” he said. .
A local sea swim scheduled for Sunday was canceled “out of respect for the swimmer and his family”.
Australian Associated Press