The shocking shark attacks that rocked the Coast
THE Gold Coast is one of the most popular destinations in the country and one of the city's biggest drawcard is pristine beaches.
For more than 60 years beachgoers enjoyed swimming without the fear of a fatal shark attack etched in their memory, until this year.
Two men were killed by a shark in separate incidents within three months in 2020.
Robin "Rob" Pedretti died at Salt Beach just south of Kingscliff on June 7 after a 3m shark, believed to be a great white, mauled him shortly after 10am.
He had been out surfing with mate Frank Schlee who, along with another Gold Coast surfer, Mark Hayes, bravely fought off the shark and paddled Mr Pedretti to shore in a vain bid to save him.
Mr Hayes in June said he was struggling with shock and trauma and had arranged to see a counsellor.
His board was dinged after it was bumped by the shark which "chased" him and Mr Schlee as they brought a badly mauled Mr Pedretti to shore.
"It could have been all of us … either one of us could have died. It was a female shark and she wasn't letting us go.
"I'm lucky to be here - very lucky - because she wanted a piece of someone."
On September 8 this year, 46-year-old real estate agent Nick Slater was killed by a shark while surfing at Greenmount Beach.
The moment of the terrifying attack - during a decent swell and a busy line-up - was witnessed by at least one other rider and captured on Coastalwatch surf cameras.
Lifeguards, with the assistance of other surfers, brought Mr Slater to shore but he could not be saved by paramedics. He had suffered a bite stretching from his hip to his knee.
A witness said he had been walking along the Greenmount footpath near one of the lookouts and spotted a board floating and a body next to it.
The man said he helped three others drag Mr Slater to the beach with the board.
"We got him on to the sand and there was a lifeguard 4WD there already with a stretcher so we put him on the stretcher but he was pretty much already gone by then," he said.
Until then, the city hadn't experienced a fatal shark attack on a Gold Coast beach in 62 years.
On November 23, 1958 Brisbane man Peter Gerard Spronk was mauled by a shark, 250m off Surfers Paradise beach.
Despite the heroic efforts of a team of lifesavers who rushed to his rescue, he died of his injuries in the water.
Southport businessman Terry Wood witnessed the incident and described the speed at which the lifesavers had reacted as "the bravest thing I have ever seen".
"I was standing on the beach watching Spronk and thinking he was taking a big risk as he was well clear of all other surfers," he said.
"I estimate he would have been 150 yards out.
"Suddenly I saw a dark shape hit him and lift him partly out of the wave.
"Then the poor fellow disappeared between waves but reappeared waving his arms but then he seemed to sink in the water.
"I did not see the shark again but I did see a demonstration of amazing courage by the lifesavers."
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In April 1990, surfer Mark Flemming was attacked by a 3m tiger shark at Greenmount Beach while going for a dawn paddle.
The shark pursued the then-31-year-old, tossing him into the air and ramming his board.
The shark pushed him, still attached to his board by a leg rope, through the water for about 27m before the young man was able to escape.
In March 2000, then-27-year-old Main Beach resident Andrew Rojervic was swimming with two friends when the shark attacked from behind.
The shark, believed to be a bronze whaler, bit Rojervic's left calf down to the bone, leaving him with a 30cm wound stretching from the back of his knee to his ankle.
In December 2002, 23-year-old Beau Martin, 23 was attacked and killed by a shark while swimming in Miami Lake.
Bob Purcell, 84, was killed by a bull whaler just two months later in February 2003 while swimming in Burleigh Lake.
Originally published as The shocking shark attacks that rocked the Coast