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Australia officials probe if tiger shark caught in net killed surfer

  • DAVID CLARK/AAP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Surfers waded in the water waiting for waves off the Southern Gold Coast area of Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, in Dec. 2017. A shark fatally mauled a man on Tuesday on Australia’s Gold Coast city tourist strip, an official said.

    DAVID CLARK/AAP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Surfers waded in the water waiting for waves off the Southern Gold Coast area of Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, in Dec. 2017. A shark fatally mauled a man on Tuesday on Australia’s Gold Coast city tourist strip, an official said.

CANBERRA, Australia >> Authorities will investigate whether a dead tiger shark caught in a net off an Australian beach killed a surfer, an official said Wednesday.

Nick Slater, 46, was fatally mauled on Tuesday off popular Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast tourist strip in a rare attack off a beach protected by shark netting.

His death is only the second fatal shark attack at one of Queensland’s 85 beaches that have been protected by nets and drum lines since as early as 1962, the state government said. The first was a 21-year-old swimmer who was mauled by more than one bull shark off a netted beach on North Stradbroke Island, north of the Gold Coast, in 2006.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a large tiger shark had been found since Slater’s death tangled in a net off Greenmount Beach.

“Further investigations will be conducted to discover if there is any link between it and the fatal attack,” Palaszczuk told state Parliament.

Before nets were put in place, the last fatal shark attack off a Gold Coast beach — 24 of which are now netted — was in 1958.

Shark nets are suspended from floats and run parallel to beaches. They are 610 feet long and 20 feet deep. Sharks can swim under the nets and around their ends.

A Senate inquiry in 2017 found that Queensland shark nets create more harm than good. The Senate committee said nets give beachgoers a false sense of security while entangling and killing protected marine species including whales and turtles.

Australia’s last fatal shark attack outside the Gold Coast was near Fraser Island on July 4. A 36-year-old spear fisherman died hours after he was bitten on a leg. Prior to that, a 60-year-old surfer was killed by a 10-foot great white shark at an unprotected beach south of the Gold Coast near Kingscliff on June 7.

Jade Parker said he was about to enter the surf at Greenmount Beach on Tuesday when he saw Slater floating motionless near his board. He waded in to help other surfers and lifeguards bring Slater in, and found a 1.6 inch tooth lodged in Slater’s board, which he said was from “an obvious white pointer,” another name for a great white shark.

“It was a good size bite to the board,” Parker told Seven Network television. “I do not want to get to the gory parts, but he was in a bad way. He was not conscious. It looked like he had already pretty much passed away at that point in time,” Parker added.

Paramedics determined Slater was already dead on the beach.

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