HOBART, Australia (AP) — A woman watched her father being mauled to death by a large shark on Saturday while the pair were diving off the Australian island state of Tasmania, police said.
The adult woman had returned to their boat with scallops that the pair had collected then became concerned that her father, in his late 40s, had not surfaced after her, Inspector David Wiss told reporters in the state capital of Hobart.
“His daughter became worried and went down and checked on her father,” Wiss said. “She saw a very large shark. She saw her father being attacked by the shark.”
The attack happened off the east coast near where a 4 1/2-meter-long (15-foot-long) great white shark was seen on Friday, government ranger Peter Lingard told The Examiner newspaper.
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The last fatal shark attack off the Australian coast occurred in February, when Japanese tourist Tadashi Nakahara, 41, lost both his legs to a great white shark 3 to 4 meters (10 to 13 feet) long while surfing at Ballina, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) north of the scene of Saturday’s attack.
Saturday’s attack occurred as Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning made his first return to the water since he fought off a large shark during a World Surf League competition in South Africa last weekend.
The three-time world champion went surfing alone at his hometown of Tweed Heads, 700 kilometers (430 miles) north of Sydney. He had contemplated giving up the sport after he was knocked off his board by a large shark at Jeffreys Bay. That attack was televised live around the world. He survived unscathed.
“First surf back. Feels so good,” Fanning wrote under a silhouetted photo of himself looking out to the ocean, which he posted on Instagram.
Sharks are common off Australia’s beaches, but fatal attacks are rare. The country has averaged fewer than two deadly attacks per year in recent decades.