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Researchers say Briton 'provoked' shark that mauled him to death

NewsResearchers say Briton 'provoked' shark that mauled him to death

International researchers have classified the death of a British man who was mauled by a shark off the Australian coast as a “provoked incident”.

Simon Nellist, 35, an experienced diving instructor, became Sydney’s first victim in nearly 60 years when he was killed a great white. Mr Nellist, who was from Penzance, Cornwall, was training for a charity swim when he was attacked by a 15 foot shark from below at Buchan Point, near Little Bay, southeast of Sydney.

The former RAF engineer was wearing a black wetsuit while swimming in an area where people had been fishing, The Times reports.  

Read more: Couple abandoned in shark-infested waters have never been found

The International Shark Attack File’s (Isaf) report has said that the death of Mr Nellist, who was engaged to an Australian, was a “provoked incident”, which is defined as when a human interacts with a shark in some facet, whether that be by accident or not.

Director of the Florida Programme for Shark Research Gavin Naylor said that while Mr Nellist was “in no way intending to provoke” the shark, he was swimming in a space “where people were fishing”.

He adds: “We find that a large fraction of bites that are reported to us occur where people are fishing and there is chum/bait in the water.  Fishing brings bait fish closer to shore than they might otherwise be and sharks often follow.”

While unpacking why the Isaf categorized the incident as “provoked”, Mr Naylor said “circumstances might have excited” the shark or provoked “atypical behaviour”.

Video footage filmed by a fisherman shows the shark in a wild state.  Mr Nellist’s death was recorded as an “unprovoked incident” by the Australian Shark Incident Database (Asid), which “works closely” with Isaf.

Isaf have been approached for comment.

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