Before the attack, the woman, who is in her 20s, returned to their boat with scallops. At that point, she noticed that her father, in his 40s, had not surfaced, Inspector David Wiss told the AP
“[The man] did not return to the surface [and] his daughter became worried and went down and checked on her father,” Wiss said. “She saw a very large shark and she saw her father being attacked by the shark.”
The woman set off a flare and made an emergency phone call, prompting other boaters to respond, according to the Guardian.
“They pulled up the [man] using the air hose that he was attached to, but unfortunately he was fatally injured,” Wiss told the Guardian.
Wiss described the father and daughter as amateur divers who left early Saturday morning from the township of Orford, according to the Guardian.
He declined to describe the nature of the man’s injuries and authorities don’t know what type of shark carried out the attack, the Guardian reported. The victim’s daughter, who Wiss described as “deeply traumatized” was unable to provide more detail about the animal other than that it was large.
Area fishermen reported a 15-foot great white shark in the area on Friday, government ranger Peter Lingard told The Examiner newspaper.
The president of the Scallop Fishermen’s Association of Tasmania, John Hammond, told the Examiner that the attack, which occurred in an area popular among amateur divers, was highly unusual.
“It is very uncommon to see sharks in this area,” he said.
The last person killed by a shark in Australia was Tadashi Nakahara, a 41-year-old Japanese tourist who was attacked by a 10- to 13-foot-long shark while surfing off the town of Ballina, in northern New South Wales, in February, according to the AP.
Last weekend, Australian professional surfer Mick Fanning narrowly avoided being mauled by a shark during a World Surf League competition in South Africa. The dramatic encounter was caught on camera and knocked the three-time world champion off his surfboard.
“I was just sitting there, I was just about to start moving, and then I felt something grab, just get stuck in my leg rope,” said Fanning. “I instantly just jumped away, and then it just kept coming at my board. I was kicking and screaming.
“I just saw fins. I didn’t see the teeth. I was waiting for the teeth to come at me as I was swimming. I punched it in the back.”
Fanning, who escaped unscathed, returned to the water to surf for the first time on Saturday, according to his Instagram account. He entered the water in his home town of Tweed Heads, 430 miles north of Sydney, according to the AP.
Tasmanian authorities have begun patrolling the area around Lachlan Island — located between Tasmania’s east coast and Maria Island — and are warning people to stay out of the water, according to the Guardian.
The Examiner reported that some locals are not heeding the warnings.
“It’s a recreational area, ” Michael Kent, the mayor of nearby Glamorgan Spring Bay, told the paper. “The scallop season has been very good to professional and recreational fisherman and then we’ve got a disaster like like this.”
“The whole community down here will be deeply in shock,” he added.
The man’s death will be investigated by a coroner, and counselors are working with the man’s family.
Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson described the latest attack as a “terrible tragedy” but urged people to remain calm and put the incident into perspective.
“There have only been five fatal shark attacks in Tasmania since convict times,” he told the Guardian. “Over time, people will be calling for sharks to be killed. While it’s tragic news, we want to keep a couple of things in perspective.”