Tathra shark attack: victim named

Tathra shark attack 'a tragedy waiting to happen'

3.30PM: Emergency services have called off the search for the remains of shark attack victim Christine Armstrong due to poor visibility. It is expected to resume on Friday at first light. 

2.57PM: The family of shark attack victim Christine Armstrong have released a statement following her tragic death Thursday.

In it they say she was "very loved by many people".

"She has been swimming at Tathra Beach for 14 years and was an experienced and committed member of the surf club. She was a senior surf club trainer for many years and swimming brought her much joy and many friends. She will be sadly missed by all who loved her, especially by Rob, her husband of 44 years."

2.45PM: Police have released the name of a woman taken by a shark at Tathra Thursday.

A search is still underway for Christine Armstrong, 63, after the incident this morning.

2.19PM: Police and Surf Lifesavers are asking the public to stay clear of the water along the entire stretch of beach from Tathra SLSC north to Mogareeka Inlet.

A local woman, in her 60s, is thought to have been taken by a shark and, while the search continues, it is important for people to stay clear of the beach area and water.

Surf Lifesavers aboard Inflatable Rescue Boats are conducting a search on the water.

Tathra Surf Club members involved in the incident this morning are receiving counselling.

1.38PM: Shark fishing from Tathra wharf has been a controversial issue for years, with locals warning of the potential for tragedy.

12.49PM: No news from Westpac helicopter.

12.43PM: Witnesses at the scene of a suspected fatal shark attack on the NSW South Coast claim to have seen a 3m-4m shark close to the surface.

12.29PM: Early reports of human remains being found in the water off Tathra have not been confirmed by police.

Emergency personnel are in the area searching for the body of a woman, in her 60s, believed to have been taken by a shark this morning.

12.02PM: Surf Life Saving NSW is advising swimmers to stay clear of the water near the South Coast town of Tathra until further notice.

Surf Life Saving resources are continuing to help police search for a missing swimmer at Tathra, who is believed to have been taken by a shark.

Surf Lifesavers aboard Inflatable Rescue Boats from Tathra, Narooma, Pambula and Bermagui are on scene and assisting in the search. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is also helping.

It is believed the woman is a member of the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club and was swimming with a social group of members and non-members when she went missing.

Club members involved in the incident are receiving counselling and it is expected that this unfolding tragedy will impact significantly on the small coastal community.

In a statement, Surf Lifesaving NSW said the thoughts of all NSW surf lifesavers are with the victim's family and friends and also with the members still involved in the search effort.

Tathra beach is closed and although nearby beaches north and south are unpatrolled at this time of year, Surf Life Saving is advising swimmers to stay clear of the water until further notice.

It is believed Department of Primary Industries fisheries officers will conduct an investigation at Tathra once a shark attack can be confirmed.

11.49AM: The woman believed taken by a shark at Tathra this morning was one of a group of up to 20 who regularly swim the 600m from the surf club to Tathra Wharf. 

Witnesses on the wharf and in the water reported she was about half-way back to the beach when she went missing.

 The swim is a popular one, with hundreds taking part in the annual Tathra Wharf to Waves ocean swim. 

11.35AM: The search for the body of a woman believed to have been taken by a shark at Tathra has picked up again, with the Westpac Helicopter back in the air and five inflatable rescue boats now in the water. 

11.24AM: All five members of a group of regular swimmers at Tathra are being treated for shock after a woman was taken by a shark Thursday morning.

A police spokesman said the group of swimmers was being treated for shock and was under general observation.

"Emergency services are doing what they can for them but naturally they're shocked and horrified by what’s occurred," he said.

10.40AM: Ambulance officers called to a suspected shark attack in Tathra say they will stay at the scene in case police, surf lifesavers or any other personnel require assistance.

District supervisor Bob Whitney says crews from Bermagui and Bega were called to Tathra Beach at 8.30am, with reports a swimmer had been taken by a shark. That was confirmed on their arrival, but the operation is now in the "recovery phase", with emergency workers hoping to recover the body of a local woman, in her 60s.

10.14AM: The search is continuing for a woman believed taken by a shark from Tathra. 

Local resident Molly Carroll describes the scene in the small South Coast town as "eerie".

"It is a bit of a shock," she said. "I was down at the beach about 8am. I saw the swimmers go in and then I was up at the house when the helicopter went over.

"It is a bit of an eerie feeling."

10AM: Tathra residents are horrified by the loss of one of their own in a shark attack this morning.

Bega District News editor Ben Smyth, who is on the scene, says it has come as a real shock to locals.

"One woman, who has lived there all her life, said she's never seen sharks in the area," he said.

Bob Armstrong has spent 60 years in Tathra and has had a long association with the local surf life saving club. He said in the 1950s the club patrolled around the cliffs and had seen sharks in the area but this is the first local attack he's ever known.

9.32AM: A woman in her 60s is believed dead after a suspected shark attack at Tathra.

Inspector Jason Edmunds, from the Far South Coast Local Command, says the woman was swimming with friends at 8.20am Thursday between Tathra Wharf and the beach.

She turned around to return to the beach and disappeared. It is believed she was taken by a large shark.

A search of the area is continuing but police believe there is little chance of finding the woman alive.

9.25AM: Early reports that the person missing at Tathra is a regular early morning swimmer.

9.14AM: Three IRBs on the water at Tathra as the search continues for a suspected shark attack victim.

9AM: Emergency services say the helicopter tasked to this morning's reported shark attack is in the air and about 20 minutes away.

8.47AM: Emergency services are responding to reports of a possible shark attack and a missing person at Tathra.

The alert went out shortly after 8.40am Thursday, with police, surf-lifesavers, the ambulance service and the Lifesaver 3 helicopter called to the scene.

The emergency call came from surf lifesavers on the scene.

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