Sydney Harbour shark attack leaves woman severely injured

Sydney Harbour shark attack leaves woman severely injured
Aerial view of Sydney Harbour at sunsetGetty Images

A woman has suffered severe injuries after she was attacked by a shark during a sunset swim in Australia.

Lauren O’Neill, 29, was bitten on the leg near a private wharf in Sydney Harbour on Monday evening.

Locals residents administered first aid after hearing Ms O’Neill call for help. She was taken to hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Authorities believe a bull shark is responsible for the attack, based on photographs of the bite marks.

Sydney Harbour is a well-known habitat for the species, but attacks in the area are rare.

Neighbour Michael Porter told the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) he heard a “soft yell” for help outside his window around 20:00 local time (09:00 GMT).

He looked outside to see Ms O’Neill hanging on to a ladder on the wharf in Elizabeth Bay, an inner-city suburb.

“She was trying to climb in and behind her was her leg, which was completely open and full of dark red blood behind her,” Mr Porter said.

Another local described how her wife, who is a vet, applied a tourniquet to stem the bleeding.

“She basically bandaged it up. The bone’s broken and it’s pretty hectic actually,” Georgia Singleton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

One witness told the SMH she regularly sees sharks swimming under the jetty. “I always thought it was a matter of time,” she said.

In 2009, former navy diver Paul de Gelder was left without an arm and a leg after he was attacked by a bull shark during a counter-terrorism exercise in Sydney Harbour.

Australia has more shark attacks than any other country except the US, but fatal attacks are uncommon.

There were 14 shark attacks in 2023, according to the Australian Shark-Incident Database, four of them lethal.