Shark kills swimmer Christine Armstrong
The body of 63-year-old Christine Armstrong has not been found after she was taken by a shark of the coast of Tathra in southern NSW on Thursday. Nine News.PT1M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-361zz 620 349 April 4, 2014
Police "hold out no hope" they will find Christine Armstrong alive, confirming they found evidence to convince them the 63-year-old Tathra resident had been killed by a shark.
Police have confirmed that searchers found a swimming cap and goggles late on Thursday afternoon which Mrs Armstrong's husband confirmed were hers.
Tathra beach is deserted at 7.30 am after yesterday's shark attack. Photo: Graham Tidy
They also found a small amount of human remains, which police spokesman Inspector Jason Edmunds declined to elaborate on.
"It was forensically tested by medical personnel yesterday afternoon to determine that it was human in nature," he said.
"That only adds further evidence that Christine was taken by a shark."
Tathra Wharf fishermen haul in a hammerhead shark in February 2014.
The search is continuing for any more remains, but Inspector Edmunds said they were not searching for the shark.
He said Mrs Armstrong's husband of 44 years, Rob, was "holding up" following the attack.
"Christine's husband was on the water ... [he] saw the shark. He was more willing to accept what happened, or more adjusted to 'this is what's happened' than the police were," Inspector Edmunds said.
Tathra fatal shark attack
Flowers rest on the front verandah of the Tathra SLSC club rooms. Photo: Graham Tidy
Police officers have briefed about a dozen or more volunteers, many of whom hit the water about 8.40am.
Two surf club boats have been deployed with a driver and two people in each who lean over the sides with masks and snorkels to look or any signs of Mrs Armstrong or the shark, with another half a dozen volunteers scouring the rocks.
Crews will switch over intermittently.
Christine Armstrong and her husband of 44 years, Rob. Photo: Channel Nine
Police divers are expected to join the search in the late morning.
One surf club volunteer said the rainy, overcast conditions reduced visibility, but the calm conditions meant they should still be able to see.
Westpac Lifesaving operation manager Craig Roberts said the Lifesaver 3 helicopter re-joined the search around 9am on Friday morning and had not located anything after 90 minutes of searching.
“The search will continue for most of the day although from our perspective, we probably won’t be there all day unless the police ask us to,” he said.
“With these poor weather conditions we can’t really see anything underneath the surface.”
Mr Roberts said the helicopter was searching the same area north and south of the Tathra headland, as the water movements had not really changed since Thursday.
Members of the Tathra Lifesaving Club and local residents raised fears the safety of swimmers at the beach was being jeopardised by illegal shark fishing at Tathra Wharf.
Sam Moskwa, a resident of Pambula, told Bega District News she confronted fishermen on the Tathra Wharf on February 23 this year after they pulled in a hammerhead shark.
“We were at the Wharf café about 10.30-11 o’clock when there was a commotion outside that someone had caught a hammerhead shark and was having trouble bringing it in,” she said.
“I saw the sign on the wharf that said shark fishing was against the law. I told him that and asked if he was going to throw it back but he said he was bringing it in and catching it was just an accident."
When Ms Moskwa said fishing for sharks brings them closer to where people swim “he called me everything under the sun”.
“I reported it to the café who said it was frequent and there was nothing they could do," she said.
Christine Armstrong, 63, was believed to have been mauled to death about 8.20am on Thursday as she and a group of swimmers - including her husband of 44 years - ploughed their way across the 400-metre stretch of water between Tathra beach and the town's wharf during their regular morning exercise.
About halfway through the return swim, Mrs Armstrong turned around to head back to the beach, separating from her husband, Rob, and the other four swimmers. She wasn't seen again.
The other swimmers spotted a ''large shark'' on their way back to the beach and grouped together as they returned to shore.
A police spokesman said a witness who was on the rocks had seen a shark ''mauling something'' near where Mrs Armstrong would have been swimming.
Her family issued a statement on Thursday describing the Tathra Surf Life Saving Club trainer as a someone to whom swimming brought joy.
''Chris 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,'' the statement read.
More to come.