Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Swimming race cancelled in Sydney due to shark sighting

Swimmers in an ocean race off Sydney faced their worst nightmare when a 10-foot shark was spotted heading straight for them, forcing race officials to quickly pluck competitors from the water.
Swimmers in the Cole Classic ocean swim, a six-mile race out through the heads of Sydney Harbor to the city's northern Manly Beach, were around the halfway mark on Sunday when the shark was spotted, local newspapers reported on Monday.

Safety boats following the swimmers out of the harbor quickly pulled competitors onboard, while officials on jet skis chased the shark out to sea.

The race was immediately called off, but a shorter race for amateur swimmers off Manly Beach went ahead.

Australia has had a spate of shark attacks in recent months.

A scuba diver off the Western Australian city of Perth survived an attack by a great white shark in January after fighting it off with his speargun and then his hands.

A 21-year-old woman died in January after she was attacked by three sharks while swimming off an island on Australia's northeast coast. She lost both forearms and suffered wounds to the legs and torso.

Australia's first recorded shark attack was in 1791. As of January 2006, there had been a total of 659 attacks in Australian waters, 193 of them fatal, according to the Australian Shark Attack File at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.


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