Australia officials probe if dead shark in net killed surfer

Surfers wade in the water waiting for waves off the Southern Gold Coast area of Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. A shark fatally mauled a man on Tuesday on Australias Gold Coast city tourist strip, an official said. (David Clark/AAP via AP)

CANBERRA – Authorities will investigate whether a dead tiger shark caught in a net off an Australian beach killed a surfer, an official said Wednesday.

Nick Slater, 46, was fatally mauled on Tuesday off popular Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast tourist strip in a rare attack off a beach protected by shark netting.

His death is only the second fatal shark attack at one of Queensland’s 85 beaches that have been protected by nets and drum lines since as early as 1962, the state government said. The first was a 21-year-old swimmer who was mauled by more than one bull shark off a netted beach on North Stradbroke Island, north of the Gold Coast, in 2006.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said a large tiger shark had been found since Slater's death tangled in a net off Greenmount Beach.

“Further investigations will be conducted to discover if there is any link between it and the fatal attack,” Palaszczuk told state Parliament.

Before nets were put in place, the last fatal shark attack off a Gold Coast beach — 24 of which are now netted — was in 1958.

Shark nets are suspended from floats and run parallel to beaches. They are 186 meters (610 feet) long and 6 meters (20 feet) deep. Sharks can swim under the nets and around their ends.

A Senate inquiry in 2017 found that Queensland shark nets create more harm than good. The Senate committee said nets give beachgoers a false sense of security while entangling and killing protected marine species including whales and turtles.