A shark attack killed an Australian man off Queensland's Gold Coast on Tuesday, marking its first fatal shark attack in over 60 years. Nick Slater, 46, was enjoying the popular surf spot at Greenmount Beach, Coolongatta, when a shark bit his leg. Surfers near the area found Slater floating in shallow water next to his surfboard.
Despite being rushed to shore and given first aid, the man died at the scene from his massive leg injury. A witness recounted the attack saying Slater was bitten across the upper leg with much of it chomped off.
Another surfer, Jade Parker, who also aided the man, said there was a large bite mark on Slater's board:
"It was probably about the same circumference as a basketball... and there was a tooth still lodged in the fibreglass which I had to remove," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Parker recalls seeing bait fish swimming through the water near where Mr Slater was found, adding that the idea that the shark had intentions to single out Slater is not realistic.
"Obviously the shark was here for the school of fish.",Parker added.
Slater, who is a local real estate agent, was attacked at around 5:00 pm while surfing next to Snapper Rocks point.
Authorities closed down the 11-mile long stretch of the beach to enable a proper helicopter and jet ski search for the shark. It is reported to be a great white measuring about 3 metres in length.
Being Australia's most famous tourist destination, Gold Coast beaches are protected by shark nets and drumlines since the 1960's. This makes shark attacks a very rare occurrence. Officials say it is still too early to determine if the incident would warrant additional shark protection measures.
Although a fatal shark attack happened in 2003, the incident was reported to have happened inland in sprawling canals that are connected to the sea.
Fisheries Minister Mark Funner said, "The location has had shark control equipment in place since 1968 and has eight drum lines and one net. These were checked yesterday morning, as they are on a regular basis."
Gold Coast beaches are scheduled to reopen on Thursday morning as Surf Life Saving Queensland urge swimmers to remain in patrolled beaches and avoid being in the water around dawn and dusk. Meanwhile, beach patrols in the area are being ramped up.
Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said:
"Once we know that the shark is not in the vicinity or we have tracked it, then the beach will be reopened."
Citing how the nets and drumlines showed no signs of being faulty, he considers the possible use of sonar technology solutions to provide further protection for beach goers.