THURSDAY’S fatal shark attack at Tathra was the second in the country this week, prompting a warning after large shark sightings near Jervis Bay and Mollymook on the weekend.
Tathra Surf Life Saving Club member Christine Armstrong, 63, was killed yesterday while swimming near the Tathra wharf.
The incident at Tathra and the death of a 38-year-old man diving in waters south of Perth on Saturday prompted Bendigo Bank Aerial Patrol general manager Harry Mitchell to sound a warning about local shark sightings over the past three weeks.
He said the numbers of large sharks his pilots had reported suggested they were remaining close to shore at a number of local beaches where the water was warmer.
“The number of hammerhead shark sightings has significantly dropped this season with a corresponding increase in sightings of other species including bronze whalers, bull sharks and great whites,” he said.
He urged beachgoers to be vigilant when entering the water at dawn or dusk.
“Murky and dirty water should be treated as a no-go area. The recent rains have contributed to the state of the water and estuarine systems are releasing nutrients and other food sources into the ocean attracting all sorts of marine life including sharks,” he said.
Mrs Armstrong had been swimming with a group of friends between the beach and Tathra wharf at about 8.20am.
Witnesses reported seeing a three to four-metre shark close to the surface in the area but no sign of the shark or Mrs Armstrong had been made at the time of going to print.
With emergency services quickly on scene, every effort was made to locate Mrs Armstrong, but not long after police conceded they were likely searching for her remains.
The police called off the search at 3.30pm due to poor visibility.
Mrs Armstrong’s family released a statement yesterday afternoon.
“Chris was very loved by many people,” it read.
“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.”