August 25, 2005

Scuba Diver Taken by Shark in Australia

SYDNEY -- The parents of an Australian marine biologist attacked and presumed killed by a shark said on Thursday they did not want the shark destroyed, while rescuers held little hope of finding the man alive.

Jarrod Stehbens, 23, was looking for cuttlefish eggs with three University of Adelaide colleagues about 5 km (3 miles) off Glenelg, near the South Australia state capital of Adelaide, when he was attacked on Wednesday.

"Jarrod was doing exactly what he wanted to do. He loved the sea, loved anything to do with water, boats, and helping out other people," Stehbens' distraught father David said.

A search for Stehbens resumed at first light on Thursday.

"Horrific injuries would have been inflicted and there's little chance of finding the person alive," police superintendent Jim Jeffrey told reporters.

Two men were in the water when the shark struck. Colleagues hauled the second man into the boat but the shark used its snout to push the first diver back into the water.

The man's shocked colleagues were unable to save him. All they found was his oxygen tank and a buoyancy vest.

Last December, an 18-year-old surfer was killed near Glenelg by what witnesses said was a great white shark. David Stehbens said he had discussed that attack with his son, who was aware of the risks of diving in the area.

"He was a marine biologist, he wouldn't want anything killed," he told reporters.

Local shark experts say the latest attack was most likely also by a great white. A fisherman expressed surprise that people would dive in areas where such sharks are known to be common.

"There's plenty of sharks out there," Keith Klamasz told Australian radio. "The last thing I would be doing is jumping in the water."

The latest presumed death is the fifth from a shark attack in South Australia since 2000.

Most recently a tourist boat captain was bitten in half as he snorkeled off the remote west coast in March.

Australia's first documented shark attack was in 1791. There have been more than 625 attacks in the past 200 years, about 190 of them fatal.