Early Saturday morning (January 21), hundreds flocked to the Shelly and Manly Beaches in northern Sydney for a day of surfing and swimming. Just an hour after sunrise, however, lifeguards urged swimmers to leave the water as a gang of bull sharks brutally mauled a dolphin in the swimming area.
The unexpected closures not only banned swimmers from the beaches but derailed several surfing and Ironman/Ironwoman events scheduled. The Manly Surf Carnival, scheduled for Saturday, was among the canceled events.
As the surfers splashed into the water for the contest, with swimmers enjoying the shallows near the shore, lifeguards suddenly sped through the waves on jet skis, forcing everyone back to the sand. Mere feet from the unwitting swimmers, a gang of 10-foot bull sharks circled a dolphin, preparing for an attack.
Bleeding and barely able to swim, the dolphin beached itself, its mangled body raising the shark alarm. The dolphin suffered untreatable injuries to its tail and was later euthanized, according to officials.
“Surf lifesavers and lifeguards cleared swimmers from the water and a large surf carnival has been suspended,” Surf Life Saving New South Wales said in a statement. “A Surf Life Saving UAV [drone] has been monitoring the shark activity from the air and has spotted a number of sharks in the area.”
Beachgoer Recounts Horrific Bull Shark Attack on Dolphin
For Emily Pettersson, a Sydney beachgoer on that fateful Saturday, word of an injured dolphin from a bull shark attack sparked no fear. Instead, she leapt into the water in search of the wounded aquatic mammal.
After swimming about 60 feet from the shore, she spotted the dolphin, a strange shadow following on its right side. Looking closer, Pettersson realized it was a bull shark. Rather than turn its attention toward her, however, it remained laser-focused on its prey.
“I turned around and there’s probably about a [10 foot] bull shark,” she recalled to 9News. “But it wasn’t even looking at me it was just going for the dolphin.”
Seeing the shark with her own eyes, Pettersson aided lifeguards in telling other swimmers to leave the water immediately. Though the shark didn’t attack her, it seemed “a bit agitated,” making Pettersson worry for her fellow beachgoers.
“I think it (the dolphin) had been attacked by the shark,” she said. “The fin was mangled, you could see it was falling off. It had a bite mark on the side of the body as well.”
Despite this gruesome sight, however, Pettersson still wasn’t worried about swimming with a school of hungry bull sharks. “There would have been 200 swimmers in the water with the sharks going up and down,” she explained. “But they’re obviously not going to do anything… They are doing what they are meant to do, which is cleaning up the ocean.”