Victim would not want shark killed: parents

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Posted by on August 24, 2005 at 22:16:04:

In Reply to: Friends saw shark take diver posted by on August 24, 2005 at 22:07:26:

Jarrod Stehbens's parents, David and Lisa Stehbens with son Trent at a press conference.
Jarrod Stehbens.

A South Australian man taken by a shark yesterday was due to leave for Germany in two weeks to complete his PhD.

Jarrod Stehbens, 23, was helping Adelaide University marine biology students to collect cuttlefish eggs for marine research off Glenelg when the attack occurred.

He is believed to have died of massive injuries during the attack, which occurred as he was resurfacing. Two of his colleagues tried to fend off the shark while rescuing another diver from the water.

Mr Stehbens was an honours graduate in marine biology at the university and had planned to complete a PhD in Germany, his parents said today.

"Jarrod was doing exactly what he wanted to be doing when it happened," his father David Stehbens said. "He loved the sea.

"He's a very experienced diver, he's done probably over 190 dives, he knew what it was about."

He said his son "loved the outdoors and the sea" but didn't have much time for the city.

"He was a good bloke, that was his character."

Mr Stehbens said Jarrod would not have wanted the shark involved in the attack to be killed.

He said he and his wife, their son Trent, 21, and daughter Jasmin, 15, were still struggling to comprehend yesterday's tragedy.

The university is expected to make a statement this afternoon.

The head of the earth and environmental science school, Bob Hill, said the university would investigate before taking a decision to suspend its diving program.

Police are continuing to search for Mr Stehbens and the shark along Adelaide's metropolitan coastline today.

Late yesterday, they recovered his air tank and buoyancy vest near the scene.

Great white the suspect

While authorities remain uncertain what type of shark took Mr Stehbens, shark expert Andrew Fox says it's likely to have been a great white, also known as a white pointer.

"The great white shark is really the only large predatory shark that's capable of actually taking a diver," Mr Fox said.

The great white is found all around Australia's southern coast but favours the waters of South Australia as a prime hunting ground.

Great whites are a protected species in Australia and are regarded as endangered around the world.

But they have attained a terrifying status in Australia following a number of fatal attacks in recent years.

Before yesterday, the most recent in South Australia was in December last year when 18-year-old Nick Peterson was attacked while being towed on a surfboard behind a boat off Adelaide's West Beach - just one kilometre from the site of yesterday's attack at Glenelg.

In 1985, a great white killed Shirley Anne Durdin, 33, who was bitten in half while snorkelling at Peake Bay on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula.

The same species was blamed for the death of Adelaide University student Jonathan Lee, 19, who was killed while diving off Aldinga Beach, south of Adelaide, in 1991.

In 1999, TV sound recordist Tony Donoghue went missing while windsurfing in Hardwicke Bay on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula - apparently killed by a white pointer.

In 2000, great whites were believed responsible for killing two men in two days off the South Australian coast.

New Zealander Cameron Bayes was dragged off his surfboard by a great white at Cactus Beach, south of Penong on South Australia's west coast.

The next day, about 250 kilometres away, 17-year-old Jevan Wright was grabbed by a shark at Black Point near Elliston.

Also in 2000, a great white up to four metres long fatally mauled father-of-three Ken Crew, 49, as he swam at Perth's popular Cottesloe Beach.

Two years later, on South Australia's west coast, a six-metre great white grabbed professional diver Paul Buckland as he dived for scallops off Smoky Bay in the Great Australian Bight.

In July last year, a great white and a large bronze whaler were believed responsible for killing surfer Brad Smith near Gracetown in south-west Western Australia.

A great white was also suspected of killing boat skipper Geoffrey Brazier, 26, taken as he snorkelled in West Australia's Abrolhos Islands in March last year.

Shark expert Rodney Fox, who is Andrew Fox's father, said that South Australia's Spencer Gulf is probably the best feeding ground in the southern ocean for white pointers.

Mr Fox, who survived a savage attack by a great white and has spent much of his life studying sharks, says he has seen more great whites in that area than anywhere else in southern Australia.

"It's probably the best restaurant in the whole southern ocean," he once said.

Great whites grow to up to seven metres, have huge and powerful jaws and are also capable of reaching speeds of up to 16kmh - more than 10kmh faster than the average swimmer, experts say.

Great whites are now a protected species in Australia and laws prohibit its hunting.

Last year, Australia announced it would push for a global ban on trade in great white shark products.

Australia said it would nominate the shark for listing under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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