February 6, 2006

Large shark zeroes in on Sydney ocean race swimmers

SYDNEY (Reuters) - 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

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.