Search resumes after fatal shark attack

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Posted by on December 16, 2004 at 14:48:11:

In Reply to: GREAT WHITES KILL SURFER posted by Mike on December 16, 2004 at 13:02:57:

The grim search for the remains of a teenager taken by a shark off Adelaide's West Beach yesterday has resumed.

Police say Nick Petersen, 18, from Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula was attacked while surfing with three friends about 300 metres offshore from the Henley Beach Yacht Club.

It is believed Mr Petersen was riding on a surfboard behind a boat when two sharks, thought to be white pointers, started circling him about 3:15pm ACST.

The teen's three friends then watched helplessly as one of the sharks grabbed him by the arm and dragged him under.

"The attack was very quick, they lost sight of him very quick and the only remains was a lot of blood in the water," police Chief Inspector Dave Lusty said.

At first light today, police began combing the shore from Glenelg to Semaphore. Two Sea Rescue Squadron boats are also in the water.

Squadron leader Frasier Bell says their main task is to find Mr Petersen's remains.

"That's what we're looking for," he said. "It's a tragedy and a gruesome job ... but we've got to do that."

Authorities plan to send a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter into the sky this morning to watch out for the sharks.


The search began yesterday afternoon when Mr Petersen's three mates returned to the West Beach boat ramp, recalling the horror they had just witnessed.

Witness Frank Criscitelli says the teenagers were hysterical when they returned to shore.

"They said one of their lads had been taken by a shark, [that] there were two sharks out there and they were playing around with him ... before they took him away," Mr Criscitelli said.

Police say pathologists are examining items found both in the water and on the beach by search patrols, but are yet to confirm if material found off West Beach is the remains of Mr Petersen.

The surfboard the teen was riding was found.

SA Fisheries director Will Zacharin says he is waiting to see a full report on the incident before making any comment, including the aspect of whether a search could be launched for the shark.

Surf Life Saving SA spokesman Shane Daw says extra patrols will be on the beach and at sea.

"We're working with the police and sea rescue and other authorities, we will have craft on the water," he said.

"We'll be stepping that up for the rest of the weekend where we'll be asking our volunteers to give up more time and I'm sure sea rescue and volunteer coastguard, everybody will be doing the same."

Shark spottings

The incident is the first fatal shark attack off the coast of Adelaide in 19 years, since a scallop diver was taken off Brighton.

But it occurred just three weeks after two large white pointer sharks were seen by aerial beach patrols.

Fraser Bell from South Australia's sea rescue says a white pointer more than five metres long was spotted by search planes around 5:00pm yesterday, just a couple of hours after the attack.

"[It was spotted] approximately 300 metres further north up the beach from where this happened and this shark was very, very close in, something like six metres off the beach," he said.

The teenager's death is the second from a shark attack in Australia inside a week, after a man died while spearfishing off Cairns in north Queensland.

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