Tathra shark attack victim Christine Armstrong ‘a keen swimmer’
The woman killed in a shark attack at Tathra has been remembered as a keen swimmer and dedicated surf lifesaver.
Christine Armstrong, 63, was killed during a morning swim between Tathra Wharf and Tathra beach about 8.20am.
“Chris was very loved by many people,’’ a statement from Ms Armstrong’s family said.
“She has been swimming at Tathra Beach for 14 years and was an experienced and committed member of the surf club. She was a senior surf club trainer for many years and swimming brought her much joy and many friends. She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years.’’
Emergency services were called to an area between Tathra Wharf and Tathra beach before 9.00am (AEDT) today after Ms Armstrong was reported missing.
She was swimming with friends when she turned back towards the wharf about 8.20amand disappeared, police said.
Witnesses claim to have seen a three to four metre shark close to the surface, according to Bega District News.
Emergency service, surf lifesaving personnel were searching the area for her remains.
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.
Police and surf lifesavers asked the public to stay out of the water at Tathra Beach following the attack.
Tathra has a population of only a few hundred and it’s believed to be the first reported shark attack in the area.
“It struck me as surprising,” shark bite expert Dr Chris Neff of the University of Sydney told AAP.
“Tathra certainly doesn’t have a history of shark attacks on the database.” The fatal shark attack brings to 47 the number of people killed in NSW in the past 100 years, according to the Shark Attack File. Dr Colin Simpfendorfer, a shark researcher at Queensland’s James Cook University, said the shark was likely to have been a great white as they inhabit Australia’s southern waters.
“If you swim in the ocean, there is a remote chance you will be bitten by a shark,” he said.
“There is no place that is particularly safe.” He was surprised the attack happened so close to shore as the swimmers were only 100 metres from the beach.
Bermagui Blue Balls swimming club president Gary Pearse often swims and dives in the area.
“There is a resident great white. I haven’t seen it myself, but I know people who have and there’s also a lot of bronze whalers,” Mr Pearse told News Corp Australia.
Local residents of the popular holiday spot are stunned by the attack.
Resident Molly Carroll described the scene in the fishing village, east of Bega, as “eerie”.
“It is a bit of a shock,” she told Bega District News.
“I was down at the beach about 8am. I saw the swimmers go in and then I was up at the house when the helicopter went over.
“It is a bit of an eerie feeling.” Emergency service and surf lifesaving personnel are searching the area for remains, with a rescue helicopter flying above the area.
Poppy Benton, who was working at her sister’s cafe at the time of the incident, said the beach is popular and she had never heard of a shark attack in the area.
“I think this will be the first shark attack for the area. I haven’t heard of anything before.” “There’s always swimmers every morning (at the beach).” Bob Armstrong, who has spent 60 years in Tathra, has had a long association with the local surf lifesaving club.
He said the club patrolled around the cliffs in the 1950s and had seen sharks but this was the first attack in the area he had known.
Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Leanne Barnes said the community was shocked by the incident.
“Our thoughts go out to the emergency workers, the groups of swimmers and everybody there at this time,” Barnes told ABC News 24.
“It’s a very popular, sensationally beautiful part of the far south coast. “There is a very famous local swim ... a group that swim (from the wharf) to the beach every day.”
The attack comes as the body of a 38-year-old man missing south of Perth has been recovered and is believed to have been bitten by a shark.http://www.theaustralian.com.au/