SYDNEY (AFP) – Sydney authorities yesterday deployed baited lines to try to catch a giant great white shark that devoured an ocean swimmer, as beach communities in Australia’s largest city were rocked by the first such attack in decades.
Drones scoured the ocean from the air, spotters launched on boats and six drum lines were set to try to catch the creature, which is believed to be at least three metres in length.
Police believe they have identified the victim, a 35-year-old ocean swimmer who was attacked on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, leaving shocked fishermen and golfers to watch helplessly from nearby cliffs.
A rescue helicopter and four ambulances were dispatched, but the victim perished after suffering what emergency responders described as “catastrophic injuries”.
It was the first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963.
“Based on footage provided by the public including eyewitness accounts… shark biologists believe that a White Shark, at least three metres in length, was likely responsible,” the state government’s Department of Primary Industries said.
The department announced it was deploying “six SMART drumlines” around Little Bay Beach, near where the attack occurred in the city’s east.
Drum lines feature hooks loaded with bait and are used to trap sharks that can then be tagged and moved to deeper ocean away from the coast.
Their use is controversial because hooked animals have been known to die before being moved, and non-target species can become snagged.