Home' Scoop : Scoop 50 Summer 2009 Contents SCOOP SUMMER 2009 75
the bone by a 2m great white as he surfed at Avalon
on Sydney's northern beaches. Days later surgeons
were forced to amputate Glen Orgias's hand.
The spate of attacks last summer had all the
makings of an aquatic Armageddon.
In Perth, Brian Guest's death struck fear into
the hearts of beachgoers up and down the coast,
sparking a frenzy of sightings, real and imagined.
No one was taking any chances, the State
Government allocated extra money for regular
helicopter shark patrols along the metropolitan
coast and shark alarms rang out regularly, clearing
the water several times a week and closing beaches.
Already this season we have had reports of big
sharks feasting on whale and dolphin carcasses off
the coast of Alkimos and Floreat and swimmers
warned to stay out of the water.
So as the weather warms up and the ocean
beckons, one might ask what lies beneath this
While Australia has a fearsome reputation for
shark attacks, the statistics actually suggest oth-
erwise. True, sharks swim in all the coastal waters
and estuarine habitats around our 35,000km
coastline and as the population increases (in Octo-
ber we passed the 22 million mark) more people are
entering the water for recreational and commercial
But according to the Australian Shark Attack
File co-ordinated by Sydney's Taronga Zoo, in
the past 50 years there have been only 53 human
fatalities in Australian waters from shark attacks.
While in some years there have been no fatalities
recorded, in others there have been up to three.
On average there is only one shark attack death
per year in Australia -- a number which pales in
significance compared to the 1463 deaths from car
accidents last year and the 94 drownings in coastal
waters during the 2008-2009 swimming season.
According to Taronga Zoo shark expert Dr
John West, the risk of being attacked by a shark
is "miniscule". We have got more chance of dying
from a bee sting or a lightning strike.
In WA, John says there have been a total of 95
Two days after Christmas last year,
Daniel Guest was snorkelling and
diving for crabs with his father
Brian at the picturesque dog beach
off Cote D'Azur Gardens at Port
Kennedy, 30km south of Perth, when his life
changed in seconds.
Just after 7am, the 24-year-old watched in
horror as a 4.5m white pointer bulleted towards
his dad and pulled him under the water.
Daniel managed to swim to shore, where walkers
and joggers reported seeing a shark with a huge dor-
sal fin thrashing about before the water turned red.
The body of Brian Guest, 51, a father of three,
avid fisherman, ocean lover and Bankwest
employee, was never found but State Coroner
Alistair Hope later ruled it was "probably
consumed" by the predator some reckoned had a
dorsal fin a metre high.
Three weeks later, 31-year-old surfer Jono
Beard crossed paths with a 3.5m great white as he
caught waves off Fingal Beach, on NSW's Hunter
Coast, escaping with a 40cm tear to his thigh.
Hours later 13-year-old Hannah Mighall
was also counting her blessings after escaping a
five-metre great white that latched onto her leg at
Binalong Bay in Tasmania's northeast.
Forty-eight hours later Steven Foggarty, 24,
was mauled by a bull shark as he snorkelled at the
mouth of Lake Illawarra, south of Wollongong
and within a month another bull shark launched a
savage attack on navy diver Paul Degelder during a
counter-terrorism exercise in Woolloomooloo Bay
in Sydney Harbour.
Then, a day later 33-year-old Glen Orgias was
savaged by a 2.7m great white while surfing at
dusk at Bondi Beach.
Glen was still in hospital two weeks later when
15-year-old Andrew Lindop's left leg was bitten to
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