Authorities will today resume the hunt for a great white shark that attacked and killed a man off the New South Wales north coast yesterday, as it’s revealed there were no shark nets at the popular beach.
Rob Pedretti was mauled by the three-metre monster at Salt Beach near Kingscliff just after 10am and died from his injuries.
The 60-year-old was dragged ashore by two heroic surfers, who attempted to fight off the shark as they pulled the man onto a board.
One of the rescuers was Mr Pedretti’s friend, while the second was a stranger who raced to help.
Mr Pedretti, originally from Geelong but living in Tugun just over the Queensland border, was bitten on the back of his thigh.
“A shark biologist has assessed photographs and confirmed a white shark was responsible for the fatal attack,” the NSW Department of Primary Industries said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the two men who tried to save Mr Pedretti have been hailed heroes.
“The actions of those people was nothing short of heroic in making every attempt to try to save this gentleman,” NSW Police District Inspector Matt Kehoe told reporters.
“They got him on one of the boards and tried to stabilise him and take him to shore. The shark circled them for a period of time while they brought the gentleman into shore.”
Witnesses at the scene estimated the size of the animal at three metres long.
Tributes are flowing for Mr Pedretti, with a group of friends gathering at a Gold Coast beach on Sunday afternoon to hold a tribute for him.
Nev Hyman, a well-known Gold Coast surfing identity, said the tragic incident was difficult for him to comprehend.
“He was one of the many people who lived and breathed surfing, we love it more than anything, apart from our loved ones,” Mr Hyman told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
“It is just incredibly heart-wrenching knowing what Rob’s family are going through at this moment.
“I know every single Gold Coast surfer’s hearts are breaking right now and they will be reaching out with love and sympathy for Rob and his family.”
NSW Police were granted permission to destroy the shark if necessary “due to concerns the shark had to be fought off by other board-riders and that it remained in the vicinity for several hours after the attack,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
It was monitored for several hours but left the area and has not been seen since.
The Courier-Mail reports that authorities will continue the search for the shark today.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said a decision will be made later this morning about whether the beaches should be reopened.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Terence Savage said it was a “dreadful” situation for everyone involved.
“When you get a call to attend a shark attack, you never really know the full extent of the damage until you get on scene,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“They did everything they could to try and save his life, but despite their best efforts, were unable to do so.”
There is a shark listening station opposite the Kingscliff surf club but “no tagged sharks were detected on this station today” or at the Byron Bay listening station some 50 kilometres south, the Department of Primary Industries said on Sunday.
No shark nets or drum lines are in place at Salt Beach.
There have now been three fatal shark attacks in Australia in 2020. Gary Johnson, 57, an experienced diver was killed by a shark near Cull Island in Esperance on Western Australia’s south coast in January.
A shark also killed 23-year-old Queensland ranger Zachary Robba in April off North West Island some 50km east of Rockhampton.
Surf lifesaver James Owen told The Gold Coast Bulletin that the area wasn’t known for shark attacks.
“It is so awful on so many levels and our hearts are with this man’s family and friends,” Mr Owen told the newspaper.
“Everyone is sensible enough to know sharks are all around and it could happen … but this area is not known for shark attacks.
“I think it’s going to take a while for the community to process and deal with it all.”