A disturbing new theory claims that a British swimmer who died when he was ravaged by a great white shark could have been mistaken for a sea mammal by the predator.
Simon Nellist, 35, from Penzance, was killed on Wednesday afternoon when a four-and-a-half metre shark sank its teeth into him off the coast of Little Bay, Sydney.
It was the Australian city's first fatal shark attack in nearly 60 years, and saw all beaches in the city closed the following day for safety reasons.
Now, some experts down under have said they believe it is likely the sea beast mistook the RAF Veteran for a seal because he was wearing a dark wetsuit.
Seals are one of the main prey of the great white shark, and form a considerable part of the sea mammal's regular diet.
Mr Nellist, a skilled swimmer, was known to other regulars at the beach for his unusual habit of wearing the insulating gear despite the sea being warm at the location.
Barbara, an 85-year-old local swimmer, revealed to Daily Mail Australia that she recognised him from previous outings to the beach and said: “He always wore a wetsuit, but the water here is quite warm and no one else really wears one.”
Responding to the new information, an academic suggested that the silhouette created by him in this clothing could have appeared to the shark below to be that of a seal.
Dr Chris Pepin-Neff, author of the book Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking, told news.com.au that it was "not crazy" for sharks to confuse humans for other mammals in this way.
Authorities in the area have now begun a desperate search for the killer shark, though Mr Nellist's family have publicly stated their own belief that he 'wouldn’t have wanted' for it to be killed in his wake.
His aunt Jacqui Seager, 62, said to MailOnline: “I don’t think Simon would want the shark to be killed. He loved nature.
“This isn’t the first time he’s gone out and seen them but he would still go out swimming. That’s brave.”
Sydney's last fatal shark attack was in 1963, when actress Marcia Hathaway was attacked in the city's Middle Harbour in an incident that shocked the nation.
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