Skip to comments.Deadly shark frenzy stuns beach haven
Posted on 01/08/2006 3:32:31 PM PST by Aussie Dasher
A WOMAN desperately screamed for help as she was torn apart by a pack of sharks but onlookers thought she was joking.
Up to three sharks struck as Sarah Kate Whiley, 21, was swimming with friends at Amity Point, off Queensland's North Stradbroke Island, about 5.30pm on Saturday. Within seconds they had torn off her arms and mauled her torso and legs.
Two fishermen were the first to react, dragging her out of the water on to the beach.
Frantic bystanders scrambled for towels to stem the bleeding before a helicopter flew Ms Whiley to a Brisbane hospital, where she died of shock and blood loss.
The horror of the pack attack has stunned the carefree holiday haven just east of Brisbane.
Beaches were closed as police and fishermen searched unsuccessfully off the Moreton Bay island for the sharks, which attacked about 15m from shore.
Inspector Peter Harding said yesterday all beaches within 2km east and west of the spot -- known as Rainbow Channel -- had been closed.
It was the first attack at a beach protected by Queensland's Shark Safety Program since it began 44 years ago, said Acting Premier Anna Bligh.
Ms Bligh ordered an urgent investigation into the program's effectiveness.
The safety features include nets or drumlines -- large baited hooks anchored to the seabed -- off 84 beaches, including Amity.
Insp Harding said Ms Whiley had been swimming with three friends from a church group when she was attacked.
She had been dragged under the water and, after about five or six seconds, came out screaming "shark".
"People at the time thought she was only joking . . . until they saw the blood," he said.
Insp Harding said the extent of Ms Whiley's injuries indicated it was a pack of bull sharks, noted for their aggression at this time of year.
"She was bleeding quite heavily -- I'm of the opinion . . . there was more than one shark involved -- there could have been up to three," he said.
Police divers and fishermen were trying to hunt down the sharks to "retrieve what we can".
"If we found them I suppose we would try to retrieve them and see if they have any body parts," Insp Harding said. "Realistically it's virtually impossible."
Some locals wouldn't go near Rainbow Channel, which he described as one of the deepest in Moreton Bay.
"After Friday night's storm, the water was very murky and dirty," Insp Harding said.
"In fact, so much so, one of the locals wouldn't go in and dive."
Despite earlier reports, Insp Harding said there was no dog with Ms Whiley at the time of the attack, and that she was in water "anything from chest deep to 30ft".
Queensland Police and the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries will investigate.
Ms Bligh said the death proved the Shark Safety Program was not an impenetrable barrier between bathers and sharks.
"Amity Point has shark drumlines -- they've had them since 1997 -- so it is very serious that there has been a fatality at a swimming beach that has these measures in place," Ms Bligh said.
Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said the attack happened about 200m south of the Amity Point drumlines.
The drumlines had been operating in the area and were checked on Saturday morning, Mr Mulherin said.
Results from an investigation by police and the department would need to be delivered before measures, such as sonar technology, were explored, he said.
Sharks at Amity Beach? Hmmm. Where did Jaws take place?
You got it in one! I was wondering if FReepers would be awake to that...
Might not these drumlines actually draw sharks to the area?
Drum lines? Why don't they just make the bathers wear
If you're being attacked by a shark and you have a chance to say anything, scream like bloody murder. Anything less might be mistaken as a joke.
Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies..
Bull sharks: highest testosterone count in the animal kingdom and a mouth full of teeth. Not a happy combination.
Nobody actually saw three sharks attack, it's just an opinion. If the water was murky, I wonder if they mistook the swimmer for food?
Welcome to the food chain.
Will try and remember that. . . :^0
. . .but your warning would make good signage. . .for sure.
. . .and the Amityville horror. . .
. . .but what's in a name?
This poor young woman. What a very horrible death. Prayers for her and her family.
Thanks for the post...I've crossed that off my vacation list...
Why do people swim at shark 'dinnertime'?
that is freaky! A shark attack where Jaws took place, talk about scary!
Thank you for thanking me, but Aussie Dasher done the honors.
Same name. Different location.
The original Jaws was set in the US. This tragedy occurred in Australia.