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Australia officials investigate whether shark caught in net killed surfer

Surfers in the water off of Australia’s Gold Coast
Surfers wait for waves at Greenmount Beach along Australia’s Gold Coast in 2017.
(David Clark / AAP)

Authorities in Australia are investigating whether a dead tiger shark caught in a net killed a surfer Tuesday.

Nick Slater, 46, was fatally mauled off popular Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast tourist strip, in a rare attack in an area protected by shark netting.

His death is only the second fatal shark attack at one of the 85 beaches in Queensland that have been protected by nets and drum lines since as far back as 1962, the state government said. The first death was in 2006, of a 21-year-old swimmer who was mauled by more than one bull shark off a netted beach on North Stradbroke Island, north of the Gold Coast.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that, after Slater’s death, a large tiger shark was found tangled in a net by Greenmount Beach.

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“Further investigations will be conducted to discover if there is any link between it and the fatal attack,” Palaszczuk told state lawmakers Wednesday.

Before nets were put in place, the last fatal shark attack off a Gold Coast beach — 24 of which are now netted — was in 1958.

Shark nets are suspended from floats and run parallel to beaches. They are 610 feet long and 20 feet deep. Sharks can swim under the nets and around their ends.

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An inquiry by a state Senate committee in 2017 found that Queensland shark nets did more harm than good. The committee said nets give beachgoers a false sense of security while entangling and killing protected marine life, including whales and turtles.

Australia’s last fatal shark attack outside the Gold Coast was near Fraser Island on July 4. A 36-year-old spear fisherman died hours after he was bitten on the leg.

Before that, a 60-year-old surfer was killed June 7 by a 10-foot-long great white shark at an unprotected beach south of the Gold Coast, near Kingscliff.

A 73-year-old Australian fisherman said Monday that he caught a far bigger fish than he hoped for when a 9-foot great white shark leaped into his boat, knocking him off his feet.

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Jade Parker said he was about to enter the surf at Greenmount Beach on Tuesday when he saw Slater floating motionless near his board. He waded in to help other surfers and lifeguards bring Slater in, and found a 1.6-inch tooth lodged in Slater’s board, which he said was from “an obvious white pointer,” another name for a great white shark.

“It was a good-size bite to the board,” Parker told Seven Network television. “I do not want to get to the gory parts, but he was in a bad way. He was not conscious. It looked like he had already pretty much passed away at that point.”

Paramedics on the beach determined that Slater was dead.


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