Little Bay shark attack victim Simon Nellist wetsuit provides clue


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A crucial peice of clothing donned by Simon Nellist before each of his ocean swims could provide answers to why the shark attacked him.

An upsetting theory behind this week’s fatal shark attack in Sydney has shed new light on why the great white may have targeted British swimmer Simon Nellist.

Mr Nellist was set on near Buchan Point in Little Bay, in the city’s southeast, on Wednesday afternoon while he trained for the Malabar Magic Ocean Swim.

Unlike other swimmers who regularly swam the channel from Little Bay to Malaba however, the 35-year-old would always wear a wetsuit, despite the water being relatively warm.

It’s now been suggested the four-and-a-half metre shark mistook Mr Nellist in his black ensemble as a seal – an animal typically gorged on by sharks once a day.

Local swimmer Barbara said she often greeted Mr Nellist, who travelled to the bay from his home in Wolli Creek about 10km away, on his regular visits to the bay.

The 85-year-old could easily spot him because he was the only one who wore a wetsuit.

“He always wore a wetsuit, but the water here is quite warm and no one else really wears one,” she told Daily Mail Australia.

Barbara said she remained committed to her swimming ritual despite the attack.

“There’s one fatal attack in 60 years so it doesn’t put you off, and I’m not going to be around in 60 years.”

Expert Lawrence Chlebeck said that the ferocious shark probably mistook Mr Nellist for a seal when it staged its brutal vertical attack.

The last fatal attack in Sydney was in 1963, when actress Marcia Hathaway died after being bitten while standing in Middle Harbour.

Smart drum lines were established from Little Bay to Long Bay in the wake of the diving instructor’s death in an effort to locate the shark.

The animal however was more than likely long gone, Marine scientist Vanessa Pirotta said.

“Shark incidences like this are rare and uncommon,” she told ABC News, adding it was probable “we will never see it [the shark] again”.

“It’s not every day that we see an animal of this size off our beaches, but it is possible … These animals are capable of large geographical movements and we will see them from time to time.”

Dr Pirotta said it was possible the shark had been drawn to the area by ocean currents.

“Or simply this animal may have just been passing through the area and unfortunately, in this case, has had a negative interaction with a human,” she said.

Tributes have flooded the internet following the death of Mr Nellist, who was due to marry the “girl of his dreams” later this year after their ceremony was called off last year due to Covid.

A friend of Mr Nellist revealed he “fell in love” with Australia after going travelling about six years ago, following two years in the Royal Air Force (RAF).

He grew up in Penzance, in england’s southwest, but had not been back for several years.

One of the swimmer’s heartbroken friends, Della Ross, told Seven News: “Everything that is connected to Simon is connected to the ocean.

“The news hit us like a truck because he was one of the people who make this earth lighter.

“He loved the water, he loved diving.”

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