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School Aquatics cancelled following SA shark attacks

Photo – School aquatics at Port Vincent Aquatics Centre

Coastal aquatics cancelled after students witness horror shark attack

Term four school aquatics activities along the South Australian coastline have been cancelled in response to a spate of shark attacks in recent months.

The most recent incident was last week at Port Noarlunga, when 32-year-old diver, Bridgette O’Shannessy, was left with serious facial injuries requiring surgery at Flinders Medical Centre. An environmental science student and researcher, O’Shannessy was attacked by a shark while diving at a popular spot near the Port Noarlunga jetty, with students on a school excursion believed to be in the water nearby.

The savage attack came just over a week after 55-year-old surfer, Tod Gendle, was taken by a shark near Streaky Bay. Last month, a woman was bitten on an early morning group swim at Beachport, and in May a school teacher lost his life at Elliston.

South Australian Education Department Chief Executive, Professor Martin Westwell, said the Education Department has made the decision that remaining ocean aquatic activities for Term four will be moved to nearby lakes and rivers where possible.

“The events of Friday were witnessed by a number of students, which was understandably distressing, with our focus on providing support and wellbeing to those that were there,” he said.

“The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are always the number one priority and has underpinned this decision.

Every attempt will be made for the students to continue their water activities at alternative sites, such as nearby lakes, rivers and inland waterways so that no students will miss out. They will still be getting their aquatic activities such as water safety programs and other things such as sailing and surfing, knee boarding, wind surfing, kayaking and canoeing, but in alternative locations.

The Department will consult with industry experts, aquatic activity experts, shark scientific researchers, marine safety and other relevant bodies before considering the re-introduction of aquatics activities in the sea.”

Updated statement

Professor Westwell later added that in light of the early introduction of shark patrols and other risk mitigation announcements by the Government, the Department will review what ocean activities can be resumed.

 

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