Shark Scare Closes Australia's Bondi Beach


Thousands of bathers enjoying the hot New Year's Day weather on Australia's Bondi Beach fled the water on Tuesday after a shark alert was sounded.

The crowded sea was cleared in a matter of minutes after authorities raised the alarm when a surf patrol boat said it had seen what it thought could have been a large shark.

A helicopter was called in to scour the water but found no sign of the animal and the beach was reopened 25 minutes later.

Westpac Life Saver helicopter service later tweeted: "Offshore Rescue Boat has cleared Bondi Beach of any sharks following sighting at 4.15pm. Lifeguards have opened beach."

Sharks are common in Australian waters and two northern Sydney beaches were closed over the weekend after a shark knocked a surfer off his board and took a large bite out of it off Dee Why beach on Sunday. The man was unharmed.

In a second incident about 390 kilometers (240 miles) north of Sydney last Friday, a surfer lost a finger and suffered a serious bite to the thigh after being attacked by a shark while on a paddle board near Port Macquarie.

While fatalities are rare, experts say attacks are increasing in line with population growth and the popularity of water sports.

A 24-year-old surfer died in July after being bitten in half in a savage attack north of the Western Australia capital Perth, the fifth such fatality in that region in less than a year.

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