Sun, Jan 16, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Shark attacks boat at children's regatta

AP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

A 3m shark threatened a children's sailing regatta in southern Australia, biting a hole in an inflatable patrol boat that tried to drive it away, event organizers said.

The shark was spotted swimming in shallow waters where 117 children aged eight to 13 were competing in a regatta in Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne in Victoria state.

Event organizer Brian Smith said a fleet of inflatable dinghies normally used to ensure safety at the regatta sped toward the shark and attempted to steer it away from the children.

"It didn't like being herded away and it came upon one of the patrol boats and bit it," he said.

"I think it was a defensive thing," he said.

None of the five people on board the patrol boat was injured in Friday's incident.

"The people on the boat were probably pretty alarmed but no one was injured," Smith said. "We did not lose any of the boats and all the kids were OK."

The shark later swam away from the race and into deeper waters.

The incident comes after a rash of shark attacks. Last month, a great white shark killed an 18-year-old surfer while his friends watched in horror in South Australia state, just 250m from a crowded beach.

Just days earlier, a 38-year-old man was killed by a shark while spearing fish on the Great Barrier Reef off northeast Australia. And in July last year, two sharks attacked a 29-year-old surfer off the Australian west coast.

Smith said it was rare for sharks to be spotted in that area of the bay.

"I've spoken to a number of guys who have been sailing in the area for 30-plus years and they say in that entire time they've experienced one or two sharks," he said. "It's not something you necessarily expect to see."

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