Amazing Australian shark attacks
Don't let this page put you off swimming at Australia's
beautiful beaches as statistically there is very little chance that
something will happen to you, unless it is in the car on the way to
the beach, around 1500 people die on the roads in Australia every year,
and only 1.2 a year on average die from shark attack in Australia.
It is more dangerous to stay on the beach where you could get stung
by a bee ( they kill three people a year in Australia) or pick up skin
cancer that kills hundreds of people every year, or get hit by lightning
like happened to an Irish tourist on Bondi Beach in February 2005.
And don't let it put you off scuba diving either, only 11% of shark
deaths worldwide are scuba divers, the most popular dish for sharks
is surfer, probably because the surfboard looks like a seal from underneath.
Florida researchers reckon that surfers in black and white bathing suits
get attacked most, and even more around the new moon. Only six out of
all shark species are dangerous to humans.
In 2005 several people have survived shark attacks in Australia simply
by punching the shark in the head as hard as they could, so remember
this trick, in contrast, worldwide people kill up to 200 million sharks
Shark Institute of Australia is an organisation which manages a shark
attack database recording details of shark attacks in Australia, visit
their site for accurate up to date statistics of shark attacks in Australia,
and for a list of recommendations to avoid a shark attack.
The Australian Shark Attack File (ASAF), kept at Sydney's
Taronga Zoo, has only recorded 33 fatal shark attacks in the past 30 years,
including the two recent deaths in
In over 200 years, there have been a total of 182 fatal attacks in Australia
. New South Wales has recorded the most fatal attacks; 69 and Queensland
68 fatal attacks.
Organizers of the Sydney Olympics hired six divers on underwater scooters
and wearing shark-pods, which emit a low-frequency electrical pulse to
keep the triathletes' swimming course in the harbour free of sharks, even
though nobody had been killed here for nearly 40 years since Marcia Hathaway
was munched up in 1963.
One place that is worth avoiding is the canals on the Gold
Coast. While the beaches are pretty safe, the canals are known for the
unpredictable bullsharks. In December 2002 they killed Gold Coast man
Beau Martin and only six weeks later former champion lawn bowler Bob Purcell
was fatally mauled, both of them while swimming in Gold Coast canals.
Some of the locals have turned the shark situation into a hobby and one
fisherman reported he catches at least three bull sharks a night, most
of the sharks he hooks are 1m to 1.5m long, but he says he has seen 3m
to 4m monsters cruising the canals. The Department of Primary Industries
and Fisheries even runs a radio campaign to highlight the dangers of canal
swimming. The department's shark control manager, Baden Lane, said people
should not be swimming in the canals but, if they do, they should avoid
night time, daybreak, dusk, overcast days and even the middle of the day.
Yes, hello, what's left then? Another fisherman said bull sharks are very
inquisitive and would nudge small boats or kayaks. Larger boats and yachts,
such as the newest Nimbus
boats for sale, are much safer in shark infested waters. Some shark
species go in attack mode even before they are born, they eat eachother
in the womb!
South African researcher Ramon Bonfil did a 15-month study
of great white sharks and tracked 32 sharks with electronic tags. To his
amazement a 3.8 metre shark that they tagged in South Africa swam 11,100km
to Australia's west coast in 99 days, ans showed up again later off the
South African coast, having completed a journey of more than 20,000 km.
in record time.
Abrolhos Islands, March 2005
Geoffrey Brazier from Perth was skippering the luxury vessel The Matrix
at Pelseart Island in the Abrolhos island group near Geraldton. He went
snorkelling with a group of tourists and was taken by a six-metre shark.
Adelaide, Glenelg Beach, August 2005
Two University of Adelaide researchers were scuba diving collecting
cuttlefish eggs about 2 kilometers off Glenelg Beach in Adelaide when
a shark was spotted. One man was quickly pulled aboard the boat but the
other man, 23 Year old Jarrod Stehbens was pushed back by the shark, and
subsequently taken. Some of his equipment was recovered but despite a
wide search police found no body. Jarrod was an experienced diver and
left behind a wife and two children. Local fishermen reckoned anyone scuba
diving around this area is shark bait and an accident was waiting to happen.
Adelaide, West Beach, December 2004
18 Year old was wake boarding behind a friend's boat when a great white
struck and killed him in December 2004.
Aldinga Beach, south of Adelaide, 1963 and 1991
In 1963, Rodney Fox was competing in a spearfishing contest in Australia.
He swam down to spear a fish but was hit by a three metre long Great White
shark. He was quickly taken aboard a boat but suffered horrific injuries,
it was probably only his wetsuit holding everything together. He needed
462 stitches in his chest.
An Adelaide student was killed by a White Pointer while diving off the
same beach in 1991.
Bronte Beach, April 2005
Early in the morning around 6 AM, a 30 year old surfer was attacked by
a shark, estimated to be two to three metres long, but used his surf board
to fend it off. The shark took a good chunk out of his board but the surfer
came ashore unharmed. Swimmers were told to leave the water and the beach
was closed for three hours but when there was no other sign of the shark
it was re opened again. The surfer also returned to the waves, as they
often do, some surfers have been known to keep on surfing while sharks
are visible, they sometimes share a bay, sharks on one side, surfers on
Brooms Head, New South Wales, February 2001
Mark Butler, a 40-year-old father of three, was attacked by a shark
on February 4 at Brooms Head , near Yamba, on the New South Wales north
coast, but managed to walk about half a kilometre to nearby homes for
help. Mr Butler suffered lacerated legs and blood loss in the incident.
Bunbury, Western Australia, January 2004
46-year-old abattoir supervisor Allan Oppert was attacked by a 4.5m
great white during a dive 25km off Binningup Beach, just north of Bunbury.
He ended up half inside the shark's jaws and said his life flashed before
him when the shark's top teeth were digging in just above his knees and
the bottom teeth into his calf. Then the shark spat him out and he inflated
his BCD and shot to the surface where he yelled out to his mates. But
the shark came after him again and was just metres behind him when he
was pulled into his friend's boat. After surgery he was released from
Bunbury Hospital but will be unable to work for at least six weeks.
Cairns, North Queensland
Fishing boats are usually followed by sharks because of all the bits
of fish they throw overboard, therefore it is not a good idea to fall
overboard. Unfortuntaly one crew member did and was never seen again,
except for his head; a few days later a fish filleter at Cairns fish wholesaler
A Fine Kettle Of Fish got the surprise of his life when a 44kg and 1,6
metre long Morgan Cod had a huge lump in his stomach which on closer examination
turned out to be a human head! It was believed this was the head of the
missing fisherman that had found its way back on board again but Cairns
Police, who are holding both the head and the fish in the city morgue,
said yesterday DNA tests would be needed to establish conclusively that
the head indeed belonged to the lost fisherman. As cods do not attack
humans it is believed that the crewman was ripped apart by sharks that
habitually follow fishing boats to feed off fish scraps thrown overboard
and that the giant cod, a bottom feeding fish, found and swallowed the
Cairns, North Queensland, December 2002
Dutch tourist Lienne Schellekens survived a hammerhead shark attack off
the far north Queensland coast, a popular scuba diving and snorkeling
area. The 18 year old was snorkeling near Upolu Cay, about 40km off Cairns,
when the shark latched onto her left arm, ripping chunks from it, before
she was dragged from the water by her boat's skipper. Lienne was airlifted
to Cairns Base Hospital for surgery on her arm. She was swimming near
three other people when the shark attacked her. Boat skipper Chris Adams
said he raced to help Lienne in a dinghy when she suddenly started screaming
I wasn't quite sure what was happening but when I got to her there was
a lot of blood in the water, he said. It was pretty horrendous. We had
to get her in the dinghy and got her back to the boat and bandaged her
up as well as we could. Another tour operator took her to Upolu Cay and
helped with first-aid until a Queensland Rescue helicopter arrived with
a paramedic. Chris said tour and dive boats travelled to the same area
every day and it was regarded as safe. Where we go is not noted for any
of the big sharks or the dangerous sharks, he said. It's one of those
things that is just a most unusual occurence.
Caves Beach, near Newcastle, New South Wales, February 2004
22-year-old Luke Tresoglavic was snorkelling on a reef off Caves Beach,
south of Newcastle when he was attacked by a small wobbegong, or carpet
shark shark. He grabbed hold of it with both hands to stop it shaking
and swam 300 metres to shore, a couple of people tried to help me but
could not remove it, so he walked to his car and drove to a local surf
club to get help while the shark was still attached to his leg. Under
the supervision of senior lifeguard Michael Jones three men took hold
of the shark and attempted to flush its gills with fresh water to make
it loosen its grip on Mr Tresoglavic's leg. With blood oozing from 70
needle-like punctures in his leg, he then drove to the nearest hospital,
taking the dead shark with him. Wobbegong sharks have a reputation of
being moody and short-tempered, can grow up to three metres in length
and have very sharp teeth.
Cottesloe Beach, Perth, November 2000
A man was killed and another injured in a shark attack in shallow waters
off a popular Perth city beach. Scores of witnesses watched as the shark
attacked at 6.30am WST at Cottesloe Beach, which was crowded with early-morning
A group of friends were swimming 30 to 40 metres off the beach when the
shark struck, fatally injuring 49-year-old Ken Crew, of Mosman Park. He
was pulled ashore on a surf ski but died at the scene, after having his
leg torn off by a shark. A second man, Fremantle lawyer Mr Dirk Avery,
who is believed to have tried to pull his friend away from the shark was
taken to hospital with cuts to his lower leg.
Police immediately evacuated the beach as police and fisheries officials
mounted an air and sea search for the shark, believed to be a great white
shark , also known as a "white pointer". Only last month Perth
beach-goers were warned to take care after two sharks - one believed to
be a white pointer - were spotted off the city's northern beaches.
Today's attack was watched by patrons at fashionable Cottesloe's Blue
Duck cafe, overlooking the beach. A distressed cafe owner Kim Gamble,
who knew the dead man, said the first thing he saw was blood spreading
in the water.
From the balcony I could see this huge shark - it was really huge, he
said. There was a whole sea of blood and it was pulling the person. It's
something I wouldn't want to see again. I do a lot of diving at the Abrolhos
islands and see sharks all the time - and that was very big, Mr Gamble
Today's death follows two fatal shark attacks in South Australia in September.
It was the second shark attack at Cottesloe in just three years.
Dr Penn said fisheries staff and police would try to encourage the shark
to move back out to sea. White pointers are a protected species in Australian
waters and a special permit would be needed to kill it. Dr Penn said killing
the shark would be a last resort.
Cottesloe Beach, Perth, October 1997
In October 1997 two men escaped injury when a five-metre shark - believed
to be a white pointer - bit their surf-ski in half 200 metres off Cottesloe
Beach in Perth.
Darwin, Northern Territory, May 2002
20 year old Richard Morris tried to throw back a six-foot-long shark
that was hauled aboard a trawler off the coast of Darwin after getting
trapped in prawn nets but it clamped its jaws around his arms. Three of
his workmates managed to free him by jamming screwdrivers in the shark's
mouth to prise open its jaws. After the ordeal he was taken to Darwin
Hospital for surgery.
Eden, New South Wales
In January 2007 abalone diver Eric Nerhus was busy working at a depth
of about nine metres when a three metre long white pointer shark swallowed
his head and shoulders and munched on him.
Eric was wearing a lead-lined weight vest which gave him some protection
and had an abalone chisel in his hand that he used to stab at the monster's
head and eyes, which convinced the shark to spit him out and let him go.
Eric's wetsuit was shredded and his mask crushed, his nose broken and
he had deep bleeding wounds on his head, chest and back.
When he surfaced in a pool of blood his son Mark pulled him aboard, alerted
authorities and he was flown to Wollongong Hospital.
Esperance, Western Australia
15 year old Zac Golebiowski was surfing with his 18 year old brother
at Wharton Beach near Esperance,
he was sitting on his surfboard waiting for the right wave, when he felt
a "bit of a tug".
This turned out to be a bite from a four metre white pointer, besides
a very damaged surfboard he was also missing his right leg below the knee,
and the left lef was severely lacerated. A holidaying Kiwi couple helped
to drag him ashore and stem the blood flow with an extension cord after
the attack and drove him about 60km towards Esperance, where they were
met by the ambulance that took him further to the local hospital, and
after initial treatment there he was airlifted to Perth Hospital.
Fishery Bay, South Australia
On Fathers Day 2005 40 year old fisherman Jake Heron was enjoying a day
of surfing with his kids and a friend near the town of Fishery Bay. The
kids were on shore when they heard their father, who was about ten metres
out from the rocks, yelling out and saw him repeatedly punching a four
metre long great white shark that attacked him. The shark then bit his
surfboard in two and continued to attack him. It was extremely lucky that
then a large wave washed him up on the rocks and away from the shark.
His mate then wrapped towels around his arms and thighs which had huge
wounds which later required dozens of stitches and took him to hospital.
Gold Coast, January 2008
A couple of men were fishing from a boat off the Gold Coast, it was early
morning and they hauled a three metre mako shark aboard. But the shark
was a bit wild and whipped around and latched on the leg of a 20 year
old man, hanging on that tight that in the end the others had to not only
kill the shark but cut its entire head off to free the man. By now his
leg was pretty messy and a helicopter lifted him off the boat for a quick
ride to hospital.
Gracetown, Western Australia, July 2004
On 11 July 2004 a shark, estimated to be about five metres long and described
by eye witnesses to be 'as big as a car' knocked 29 year old surfer Bradley
Adrian Smith off his board and subsequently mauled and killed him at Left
Handers beach, south of Gracetown, near Margaret River. 16 year old Cameron
Rowe who was one of the surfers nearby that witnessed the 45 second attack
said; I could see the whole shark, it lunged out of the water to latch
on to him. It bit him and then he's tried to fight it and then it's bitten
him again, and disembowelled him. His leg was just hanging on. There was
a big pool of blood and then he was lying in the water. Cameron told how
he and his mates surfed to shore when one of the sharks starteded heading
towards them. But back on the beach they saw Brad's lifeless body drifting
towards them, so Cameron and 17-year-old Mitchell Campbell went back into
the ocean, paddled out against the choppy waves and tried to pull him
on to one of their surfboards. Mitchell Campbell said; I grabbed his shoulder,
and when I pulled him forwards his legs and everything came up and it
was just shredded. They then called 000 but by this time all authorities
could do was close the beach, erect shark warning signs and start hunting
for the shark. Left Handers beach was considered a relatively safe beach
for junior surfers. After the deadly 2000 attack on 49-year-old Ken Crew
at Cottesloe Beach the WA government had introduced daily summer aerial
shark patrols but these had failed to pick up this shark. Although sharks
are protected by law, fisheries officers were given special permission
to kill the shark if found.
Hardwicke Bay, South Australia, May 1999
Windsurfer Tony Donaghue, 22, disappeared off Hardwicke Bay in South
Australia in May 1999. A shredded wet suit and mauled board were the only
clues to his fate.
Kangaroo Island, September 2005
People get all sorts of things as birthday presents, but a shark attack?
Josh Berris was surfing on his 26th birthday at Cape De Couedic on Kangaroo
Island when a four metre great white bit him on his legs. Josh responded
by shoving his hand in the shark's mouth, then the shark got hold of his
surfboard and started dragging that away, but Josh undid his legrope and
was free. A mate paddled out to him and took him back to shore, bystanders
helped to slow the bleeding and help was called in. The area is a seal
colony and was busy in mating season so the shark may have confused him
with a seal as often happens. He was airlifted to hospital by a helicopter.
Kholo, near Brisbane, early 2005
Horse trainer Alan Treadwell had his horse swimming in the Brisbane river
The 500 kg race horse suddenly went berserk when a 2 metre long bull shark
bit him and the horse disappeared underwater. Alan had the horse on a
lead and kept pulling and after about half a minute the shark gave up
and let go and the horse ended up on dry ground with puncture wounds and
some bruising around the leg.
Moreton Bay, Brisbane, September 2001
31 year old Matt George suffered back injuries but has survived after
a great white shark attacked him as he paddled in an inflatable boat in
Brisbane's Moreton Bay. The shark attacked his boat for about half an
hour and deflated one side as he hung on to his boat and paddled 200 metres
Nambucca River, New South Wales, April 2001
A surfer had to undergo surgery after being attacked by a shark while
surfing on the New South Wales mid-north coast. The 40-year-old man was
surfing with a friend at the V-Wall, a local landmark near the entrance
to the Nambucca River, when he was bitten on the lower right leg. The
shark's teeth had torn through the man's calf muscle but he managed to
escape the shark and his friend tied a surfboard leash around his leg
to stem the flow of blood. The pair then drove to Nambucca Heads ambulance
station where the surfer was treated by staff before being taken to Coffs
Harbour Hospital where he remained in a serious but stable condition and
was being prepared for surgery.
North Queensland, December 2004
Shark attacks are rare in north Queensland and usually happen further
south in colder waters but a 38-year-old Clifton Beach man was on a spear
fishing trip at Opal Reef, 40 nautical miles northeast of Cairns, when
he was attacked by a shark. He was about 15 metres from the boat and others
quickly swam to his recue but he suffered such severe cuts to his upper
left leg that he died shortly after from severe blood loss, before the
rescue helicopter arrived. He and his friends go to Opal Reef regularly
and all were surprised by this attack. Vic Hislop had a different opinion
(as usual) and said that reef is out of control and home to large tiger
sharks and one of his friends had disappeared without a trace there.
New South Wales
A scuba diving couple in the 1980s had the honeymoon from hell when on
their dive a great white charged at them, the husband managed to push
his wife out of the way of the shark which saved her but he was taken
Perth, Scarborough Beach, September 2005
Surfer Brad Satchell escaped injury when he fought off a shark by punching
it in the head at Perth's Scarborough beach.
Port Douglas, north Queensland, December 2005
44 Year old Glenn Simpson from Melbourne was snorkelling and spear fishing
at St Crispins Reef near Port Douglas with his two sons in December 2005.
They had noticed some white-tippedreef sharks in the area but as they
are a harmless type of shark this did not worry them.
Things changed when his son Luke speared a coral trout and half a dozen
sharks went into a feeding frenzy on the injured fish. Suddenly there
were sharks everywhere and in the chaos Glenn was bitten several times
and ended up with a large chunk missing from his right elbow and 30 puncture
holes in his arm. One shark went for his shoulder but he punched it and
it went away. After the attack he was flown by helicopter to Cairns hospital.
His other son Dylan was about 100 metres away on another reef when the
attack occurred and was not injured.
He said he would not give up snorkelling and spear fishing but would probably
give it a break for a week or so.
Smoky Bay, South Australia
Paul Buckland, 23, a commercial abalone diver based in Port Lincoln,
was surfacing from his dive when an 18ft long great white shark struck
from beneath with terrifying speed and ferocity. He did not stand a chance,
the shark was as big as the boat they were working from. His mate Jenzen
managed to pull him out but by this time Buckland had lost his left leg
and much of his torso.
Stradbroke Island, Queensland, January 2006
Brisbane woman Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, was staying on North Stradbroke
Island with some friends and decided to go for a swim late Saturday afternoon
at Rainbow Channel beach.
She was about 20 metres offshore when, according to police, a pack of
three bull sharks attacked her. In no time at all they ripped both her
arms off her body while she disappeared under water for a few seconds.
When she resurfaced she screamed out "SHARK!!" but at first
people thought she was joking.
Some of her friends were only metres away in the chest deep water and
came to the rescue, but were also chased as they dragged her mauled body
to shore. One of her relatives later said; "I went to grab her arm
and her arm wasn't there..."
After being pulled from the water bystanders tried to stop the flow of
blood with their beach towels and she was flown by helicopter to a Brisbane
hospital but she died 90m minutes after arrival there due to massive blood
loss, having lost both arms and major injuries around the torso and legs.
Sarah was the first person killed by a shark attack at a protected beach
in the 44-year history of Queensland's controversial Shark Safety Program.
Witness reports spoke of only one shark, and Shark Safety Program manager
Tony Ham also believed that a bull shark about 2m long would have been
capable of inflicting this amount of damage.
The bull shark is particularly aggressive type of shark, and responsible
worldwide for more attacks on people than any other shark species.
Nobody had been attacked by a shark on North Stradbroke Island since 1973,
33 years ago, so don't let this put you off swimming on Stradbroke Island.
South Australia, September 2000
Although Australian statistics show an average of one death a year by
shark attack in september 2000 two surfers were killed in separate shark
attacks about 200 kilometers apart in the space of two days.
New Zealander Cameron Bayes, 25, was killed by a Great White about four
meters (13 feet) long at Cactus Beach, about 600 km west of Adelaide,
an area nicknamed Shark Restaurant because of the frequent shark sightings.
Local Jevan Wright, 17, was killed the following day, two friends who
were out on the waves with him at Black Point, near Elliston, were uncertain
what type of shark ripped the teenager from his board, seeing only the
tail, but believe it was also a Great White, a protected species in Australia.
The most ferocious of the shark family, the Great White, also known as
the White Pointer is often sighted in these waters. They can grow up to
seven meters long and weigh up to four tons.
In both of the attacks only pieces of the mangled surfboards were recovered.
South Australia, February 2011
50 Year old balone diver Peter Clarkson was diving about 25 km. off the
bottom of Eyre Peninsula the South Australia was attacked while surfacing
after a dive by two great whites who dragged him out to sea and he was
never seen again.
He had survived a close encounter with a great white the year before but
this time his luck had run out, the skipper of the vessel saw the attack
but there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Sydney, March 2009
15 Year old Andrew Lindop was happily surfing at Avalon Beach in Sydney
when a two metre long shark bit his leg early on Sunday morning in March
2009. His father was surfing there too and when he saw his son trashing
about he dragged him to shore and other surfers helped to slow the bleeding
with beach towels. It had all happened too quick to determine what type
of shark it was. Andrew was taken to hospital by helicopter for surgery
to his leg and was in a stable condition.
The beach and several others nearby were closed for the day but still
only three hours later hundreds of swimmers took to the water in the Sydney
Harbour Swim Classic, organisers decided to go ahead because the incident
did not occur in the harbour.
Townsville, July 1983
Shark attacks in north Queensland are rare, but in cases like this sharks
are attracted to the dead and injured fish that get thrown out from commercial
The Australian movie The Reef is based on the true story where a tiger
shark killed several crew of the fishingboat New Venture in July 1983.
There were three crew on the boat; Ray, Linda and Murphy.
Murphy's Law says; if anything can go wrong it will go wrong, in the worst
possible place, and at the worst possible time, so maybe Murphy should
not have gone out fishing that day...
They were 80 km off the coast of Townsville, north Queensland when the
boat was hit by a big wave and sank.
Lots of debris was floating around that they lashed together to make a
raft and they started making their way to nearby Lodestone Reef where
they knew other fishing boats were working.
While they were paddling along Murphy got pulled under by a tiger shark,
and when he resurfaced part of his leg was missing. He understood that
now he was doomed, with the blood in the water the shark would not give
up so Murphy said to his fishing buddies that they should swim away and
Murphy himself swam to the shark in an attempt to save his mates and he
Ray and Linda swam away from the shark as fast as they could, and continued
floating on the raft, but several hours later the shark was back again.
This time it took Linda and then disappeared for a few hours again.
Ray kept paddling like crazy on his piece of foam but just before he reached
the reef the shark was back again, but fortunately fishermen on other
boats working at the reef saw him and just in time came to his rescue,
making Ray the sole survivor of this drama.
33 Year old Peter Kurmann was diving from a boat in April 2012 off Stratham
Beach, 230km south of Perth, when a great white shark about four metres
long attacked him.
His brother pulled his mauled body from the water and took it to Busselton.
Have you survived, or know of a shark attack? Then contact