Sarah Kate Whiley died after she was attacked in waist-deep water by up to three sharks in Rainbow Channel on North Stradbroke Island. Ms Whiley died 50 minutes after the attack due to shock and massive blood loss as a result of losing both arms and a mauled torso and legs.
Onlookers initially thought her cries for help were a joke until they saw blood. Two fishermen were the first to react, dragging Ms Whiley onto the beach. Frantic bystanders used towels to stem the bleeding before a helicopter rushed her to Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Beaches east and south of Amity Point – which bears the same name as the fictitious Amity Island in the movie Jaws – were closed over the weekend as a safety precaution, but Queensland Surf Lifesaving’s George Hill has urged swimmers that the area is still not safe.
“I would strongly recommend not to swim [in the area] at this stage as the sharks could still be around and if they’ve got a taste of food in that area they could be back,” Mr Hill said. The Redland Shire Council will be accessing the potential for a swimming enclosure at the beach to improve safety after pleas from locals. The extent of the Ms Whiley’s injuries suggest a pack of bull sharks, noted for their aggressive nature at this time of year, were responsible.
The fatal shark attack has sparked a renewed debate about whether aerial shark patrols should be conducted over Sydney’s beaches despite the patrol being shut down two years ago due to a lack of funds. In Victoria, where aerial patrols resumed, there have been six sharks sightings since the beginning of December. Mel Varley