This article originally appeared on Surfer.com and was republished with permission.
Somber news out of Australia, where another surfer has died after being attacked by a shark. Today’s attack, on a local surfer in his 50s, happened at the Rainbow Bay section of the Snapper to Kirra Superbank.
According to Coastalwatch, “The victim was surfing a small onshore swell between Little Marley and Greenmount when he was hit at approximately 5pm. There was a crowd of surfers further out at Snapper Rocks, but the victim was the only surfer in the immediate vicinity when the shark attacked.”
Being down from Snapper and away from other surfers, the attack went unnoticed at first, and it took a bit of time for anyone to realize what had happened. “I was walking around the Greenmount footpath, and there were four or five guys pointing and yelling out to the lineup,” says one of the surfers that spotted the victim, and subsequently helped drag him to the beach. “I looked out to where they were pointing and spotted a board floating in the lineup, and a body was next to it. I presumed he might have got knocked out, because he wasn’t moving.”
When he got to the victim to help drag him to shore, he saw he was missing a chunk from his groin down to his knee, and realized what had happened. Unfortunately, at that point, it was already too late for help. “We put him on the stretcher, but he was pretty much gone by then,” he continued. As for what might have provoked the attack, he offered his thoughts. “I could see a school of fish out where he was, and about 30-ish birds diving, so there was a bit of activity on the water. That’s probably what the shark was coming for.”
While the inherent shark risks that come with surfing in Australia are well-publicized, an attack on the Superbank comes as a big shock. The Gold Coast’s beaches—including the Snapper to Kirra stretch—have utilized shark nets since the 60s, and this is the first fatality on a netted Queensland beach. Although, Coastalwatch does mention in their reporting that “it’s believed the nets weren’t in place at the time of the attack. Drumlines however were.”
Whether nets were in place or not, the stretch of beach where the attack happened is frequented by hundreds of thousands of surfers every year and is generally not considered “sharky,” at least not the way many other, more remote beaches in Australia are. It’s home to the WSL’s opening event on the Championship Tour calendar every year, and there’s a good chance you may have surfed it.
Our condolences are with the victim, his family and the Gold Coast surf community.