Shark attack hotspot claims another victim

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Posted by on August 24, 2005 at 15:49:58:

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

A BRILLIANT young marine biologist has been attacked and killed by a shark while scuba diving off Adelaide's Glenelg beach as university colleagues watched from their boat.

The shark attacked Jarrod Stehbens, aged in his 20s, as he was diving in 18m of water with another researcher collecting cuttlefish eggs about 5km off the city's main beach.

The attack was the second in eight months off Adelaide metropolitan beaches, taking place just 6km from November's fatal attack on 18-year-old Nick Petersen by two great white sharks. Five people have now been killed by sharks in South Australian waters since 2000.

The attack on Mr Stehbens, at a popular diving location known as the Glenelg tyre reef, occurred at about 4pm after a day of heavy fishing in calm waters.

Two researchers spotted the shark from their 4m metal runabout and managed to haul one of their diving colleagues from the water. But they could only look on as the shark attacked Mr Stehbens, repeatedly pushing him under the water with its snout whenever he surfaced.

"Two people in the boat did witness the attack (and) one of the divers was pulled back on to the boat as the other one was taken," Acting Superintendent Jim Jeffery said. "The indications are that it will be very doubtful we will find the person alive."

Superintendent Jeffery said police were unsure what type of shark was involved in the attack, saying the traumatised witnesses had only described it as "large". Shark experts, however, said it was most likely a great white.

One onlooker yesterday reported the sighting of a 4m great white 20km off the city's beaches about two weeks ago.

Police in diving gear joined about 20 boats setting out from the West Beach boat ramp for the search as friends of the victim gathered outside the adjacent sea rescue squadron headquarters. A scuba tank and a damaged buoyancy vest was later recovered, but a search involving two helicopters failed to find any trace of Mr Stehbens. The search will resume this morning.

A leading postgraduate student from Adelaide University with diving and boating skills, Mr Stehbens had travelled to Germany as an undergraduate to study polar marine animals in the North Sea.

Professor Bob Hill of the school of earth and environmental sciences paid tribute to his team, who "made every effort" to prevent the attack. He said the researchers were aware of the dangers.

"We have absolute confidence in the safety standards and the way they conducted themselves out there."

Keith Klemasz, who was fishing near the tyre reef yesterday, said there was "plenty of bait out in the water".

"I have been out there at one and two o'clock in the morning, and seen the lights (of divers) below," he said. "It's crazy - they are just sharkbait."

Mr Stehbens' family, who live in the southern South Australian town of Beachport, declined to comment last night.

The commodore of the South Australian sea rescue squadron, Fraser Bell, said yesterday's calm sea conditions were reminiscent of the day Petersen was taken last year.

Following the deadly attack on Petersen a number of further shark sightings made the city beaches off-limits to many people. Petersen's three friends said two sharks measuring 6m and 4.5m had killed their friend and they urged the police to find and destroy the animals.

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