The crew of a rescue helicopter in Australia spotted what they believed was a great white shark, following a fatal attack in Byron Bay.
The attack occurred Tuesday at the popular tourist destination on Australia’s east coast. The victim, 50-year-old Paul Wilcox, suffered severe wounds to his right leg. According to ABC News, Mark Hickey, another beachgoer, brought the injured man back to shore, 50-65 feet from the site of the attack. Prior to entering the water, he observed a six to seven foot long shark, though he could not identify the species.
Surprisingly, though shark attacks are usually limited to a single strike, after which the predator loses interest, Hickey told The Daily Telegraph that the Byron Bay great white struck a second time.
“The shark came back to him and had another go. I didn’t know it was a person — but when I realised I ran out and waded to the bank and grabbed him and did CPR but it was too late. I brought him back in and worked on him on the beach.”
— Nine News Brisbane (@9NewsBrisbane) September 9, 2014
Police Inspector Bobbie Cullen stated that a rescue helicopter dispatched after the attack spotted a shark in the area, believed to be a great white. Though authorities later lost sight of the animal, other sharks were also spotted. Police spent much of the day using helicopters and jetskis to chase the sharks back out to sea. The bite marks on Wilcox’s leg will be examined to confirm the exact species of shark responsible.
“It’s not confirmed at this stage but it looks like it’s a great white,” Cullen said. “I’m pretty sure he (the victim) was out swimming on his own. His wife was on the beach at the time.”
Shark near Byron Bay. Pic via Westpac chopper northern region pic.twitter.com/3f0MoRlj4u
— Hayden Nelson (@haydennelson) September 9, 2014
Andrew Chapman, a New South Wales Ambulance paramedic who was at the scene, related that Wilcox likely died shortly after the attack, before reaching the shore.
“It was a fatal bite with major blood loss. He probably died in the water because there was no blood loss on the beach.”
The incident comes just a week after two kayakers were attacked by a great white off the coast of Plymouth, Massachusetts. As The Inquisitr reported, the pair was thrown from their boats during the attack, although neither were seriously injured by the great white.
— Birmingham Mail (@birminghammail) September 9, 2014
Beaches in Byron Bay remain closed for 24 hours in light of the shark attack, but some swimmers had already headed back into the water, just hours after Wilcox was killed. While some have raised the possibility of culling the shark, others assert that the great white shouldn’t be harmed.
“They shouldn’t go and hunt the shark down, it’s not the shark’s fault – it’s the shark’s backyard,” said 70-year-old Richard Buxton, a local and frequent Byron swimmer.
Though authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a cull, the great white shark is a protected species.
[Image via Mashable]