A 35-year-old British citizen living in Australia was killed in a brutal shark attack last year in what researchers are calling a “provoked incident.”
Simon Nellist, a diving instructor and former UK Royal Air Force serviceman, died after being attacked in February 2022 by what witnesses described as a 15-foot great white shark at Buchan Point, near Little Bay, southeast of Sydney,
The incident, Sydney’s first fatal shark attack in decades, shocked the world. Extremely graphic video of the attack emerged online. The video shows thrashing in the water and a pool of blood about 50 yards off the coast.
A witness, Kris Linto, said the swimmer was in the water when the shark “came and attacked him vertically.”
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The International Shark Attack File (ISAF), a global database of all known shark attacks which is run by the Florida Museum, has classified Nellist’s death as a “provoked incident.” The database classifies “provoked incidents” when a “human initiates interaction with a shark in some way.”
Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, told The London Times that Nellist was “in no way intending to provoke” the shark had been swimming in an area where people were fishing.
“We find that a large fraction of bites that are reported to us occur where people are fishing and there is chum or bait in the water. Fishing brings bait fish closer to shore than they might otherwise be, and sharks often follow,” he said.
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He explained that these circumstances might have “excited” the shark or induced “atypical behavior.”
As a result, ISAF classified the incident as “provoked,” Naylor said.
In 2022, ISAF investigated 108 alleged attacks worldwide in 2022. It confirmed 57 attacks of unprovoked shark bites on humans and 32 provoked bites.
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The organization shared that in 2022 there were nine shark-related fatalities worldwide, with the U.S. leading in unprovoked shark attacks.