A coroner’s inquest has revealed the final moments of Australian teacher Sam Kellet, who was “swallowed whole” by a great white shark while freediving in February of last year.
Kellet had set out with friends to dive at a spot 100 kilometers distant from the one they eventually chose, but the group were forced to alter their plans due to a catastrophic fire warning (they had originally intended to dive at Chinamans Hat Island in Innes National Park). They eventually settled on Goldsmith Beach, west of Adelaide, and spent over three hours diving there before a change in the wind caused them to swim back to their cars. According to the Daily Mail, it was at that juncture that a scream alerted witnesses to the presence of a great white shark.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) September 30, 2015
Witnesses recall seeing the shark thrashing about on the surface where Kellet had been just moments before, according to the Independent. Wyatt Raymount recalled that he observed the great white shark in a vertical position, with its head situated near the surface and its tail toward the bottom. Though he was able to dive under the surface and observe the shark, he did not see Kellet.
— George T. Probst (@GeorgeProbst) September 29, 2015
Another witness, Nicholas Carson, noted that he saw blood in the water after the shark struck, and that he watched the entire body of the great white exit the water during the attack. Situated just 25 meters from Kellet at the time, Carson described the shark as roughly five meters long, and dark grey in color. He believes that the shark in question was a great white, recalling that the attack took place with incredible speed.
— Daily Star (@Daily_Star) September 30, 2015
Aaron Whitaker, meanwhile, related that he heard Raymount yell, alerting him to the shark’s presence. After turning toward the commotion, he saw the shark’s tail rise out of the water. Though he dove to observe it, he was unable to see any more of the shark.
Amy Cacas, the counsel assisting the coroner, related to the inquest that police divers were eventually unable to find Kellet’s body. Their efforts were not entirely in vain, however, as they recovered two lead weights and Kellet’s speargun. The weapon was marked with serrated incisions, which experts later identified as consistent with impressions from great white shark teeth.
— The Sun (@TheSun) September 30, 2015
Though the inquest continues, Cacas related that given the circumstances, ample evidence exists to support the assertion that Kellet met his end as the victim of a white shark attack. State Coroner Mark Johns is scheduled to hand down his findings in the case at a later date.
Kellet’s parents related that their son had a deep respect for the ocean, and that he would never wish for the shark which took his life (or any other) to be culled as a result of the attack. Australia has seen a growing controversy in recent months, as calls mount for a cull of great white sharks following several fatal attacks in Queensland and New South Wales.
According to the Taronga Zoo, which hosts the Australian shark attack file, there have been a staggering 29 reports of shark incidents across the continent so far this year, exceeding last year’s level of 23. This year’s events have resulted in 18 injuries related to shark attacks, as well as two fatalities. Great white sharks have been a protected species in Australian waters for the last 18 years.