Shark kills scientist off Glenelg

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Posted by on August 24, 2005 at 15:48:55:

In Reply to: Shark takes marine biologist posted by on August 24, 2005 at 15:41:53:

MARINE biologist Jarrod Stehbens loved the sea, but yesterday he became its victim when taken by a shark off Glenelg.

The University of Adelaide scientist was on a field trip with other divers several kilometres offshore when he was fatally attacked by what witnesses said was a "large shark", now believed to be a Great White.

There was an unconfirmed account last night of the shark striking Mr Stehbens with its nose as he was attempting to clamber from the water on to a boat.

Despite a widespread air and sea search by police and sea rescue squadron boats, no sign of the diver other than his buoyancy vest and air tank had been found last night.

Police were to resume the search at first light today, but they held little hope of finding the respected scientist alive.

Yesterday's attack happened just a few kilometres from West Beach, where 18-year-old Nick Peterson was killed by a Great White last December.

Mr Stehbens' distraught parents were preparing to drive to Adelaide last night from the South-East town of Beachport, where he grew up.

A family friend travelling with the parents described him as "a good kid".

"We've watched him grow up and pursue a career he wants to do," the friend said.

"He had always loved the sea."

Ben Rowntree, the brother of diver Justin Rowntree, who was dragged from the water just before the attack, said: "We're still trying to get our heads around what's happened".

"It could have been my brother that was taken out there today," he said.

"We are just so lucky that Justin wasn't the one."

Mr Stehbens was attacked about 4.10pm at the tyre reef, a popular diving and fishing spot.

One woman and three men were on the University of Adelaide diving trip looking for cuttlefish. Two were in the water and two were in the six-metre aluminium boat.

Those on board saw the shark near the boat and alerted the two divers in the water. Mr Rowntree was dragged to safety, but the shark struck before Mr Stehbens could be saved.

Police were unsure what species of shark was involved in the attack, saying the traumatised witnesses had only described it as "large".

Shark expert Andrew Fox, however, said it was likely the shark was a Great White.

"It's very likely that, other than a bronze whaler shark, the Great White shark is really the only large predatory shark that's capable of actually taking a diver," he said.

Patrols will comb the shoreline today for remains and beaches will not be closed.

The three survivors were interviewed by police at Sea Rescue Squadron headquarters, West Beach, and then driven to the University of Adelaide.

As the Adelaide Bank helicopter and a fixed wing plane searched for the missing man from the air, a police boat escorted the other divers from the tyre reef.

A large air and sea search was launched about 4.30pm after the group used the boat's radio to alert authorities of the attack.

The search was called off about 7pm because of darkness.

Anxious friends and colleagues from the South Australian Research and Development Institute met the survivors at the West Beach boat ramp.

Professor Bob Hill, of the University of Adelaide's school of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said all of those on board were accredited divers.

"The school would need to have a very serious look at whether similar activity will continue," he said.

"It appears they made every attempt they could to do the right thing while they were out there.

"They were well aware of the dangers and we have very strict occupational health and safety regulations."

The divers had "been out many times before" to conduct similar research," he said.

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