Father of shark attack victim pleads for life of killer

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Posted by on December 17, 2004 at 16:03:12:

In Reply to: Shark-attack victim's family opposes kill order posted by on December 17, 2004 at 10:59:03:

ADELAIDE, Australia : The father of an 18-year-old Australian who was ripped to pieces by a great white shark countered demands that it be killed, saying the predators should be "appreciated and respected".

Nick Peterson was being towed on his surfboard by a speedboat off a popular Adelaide beach on Thursday when a shark grabbed him by the arm and tore him apart as his horrified friends looked on.

Search crews hunted throughout the day Friday for Peterson's remains but found nothing. Police initially announced that some of his remains had been found but later said the tissue pulled from the sea was not human.

South Australia state's acting premier, Kevin Foley, said early Friday that special authorisation had been granted to kill the five metre (16.5 feet) great white shark that killed Peterson, even though it is a protected species in Australia.

"Any large shark in close proximity to the beaches of our state, particularly the city of Adelaide, should be destroyed," Foley told reporters.

But Peterson's father Phil said he did not want to see wholesale slaughter of great whites.

"We acknowledge that the sea is, in fact, the shark's domain," he said.

"We don't, and I certainly personally don't, advocate the indiscriminate killing of any shark. They are to be admired, appreciated and respected and Nick knew that," he said.

Peterson's family and friends gathered for an impromptu tribute Friday morning at the beach where he died in Australia's second fatal shark attack in five days.

Authorities initially believed two great whites were involved but said Friday a single shark was now thought to be responsible. They said it was so big some witnesses thought two sharks were attacking.

Great whites, also known as white pointers, can grow up to eight meters long and weigh up to 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds).

Sea Rescue Squadron spokesman Fraser Bell said two sightings of the predator were made early Friday along the coast from the attack scene at West Beach, 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from Adelaide's city centre.

"It actually came to the surface and swam under our rescue boat so we do know it's still in the area," Bell told reporters.

Adelaide's beaches, normally packed in the sweltering holiday season weather, were quiet as police and fisheries officers combed the waters in search of the killer shark.

Police did not close the beaches but warned beachgoers to consider their own safety.

However, experts dismissed fears the shark had turned "rogue" and would continue to stalk beaches to satisfy a newly-acquired taste for human flesh.

South Australian shark researcher Andrew Fox said sharks most likely mistake swimmers for sea mammals such as seals.

"We (humans) don't have the energy content of dolphins, whales and snappers," Fox said. "They don't tend to become rogue sharks because there has never been a case when a shark has taken a liking to eating people."

South Australian Conservation Council president Jane Corin said killing the shark would be pointless.

"If we keep killing the sharks, that species will be removed from our seas," she told ABC radio. "It is a top predator and plays a major role in keeping the seas free from disease and injured animals."

Foley said preserving human life was a higher priority than saving an individual shark.

The latest death comes just five days after Mark Thompson, 38, was killed by a shark while spearfishing on a section of the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland.

The Adelaide attack was the eighth fatal shark attack in Australian waters since 2000.


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