Spearfisher disappears while free diving off Sydney coast
Police at La Perouse resume search for missing spearfisher. Photo: Nick Moir
Police are searching for a man who disappeared while spearfishing with two friends near an island off La Perouse.
They hadn't seen him, and unfortunately none of them had enough air left in their tanks to go and look without endangering themselves
The three men were free diving together near Bare Island about 8am on Sunday, but a 27-year-old man did not return to shore, police said.
His friends went back into the water to look for him and found some of his equipment, before calling emergency services.
On Sunday water police, POLAIR, police divers and the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter could not find the man and the search was suspended at 5pm.
Water police and divers returned to the area on Monday morning to continue the search, which was still under way in the afternoon.
Anna Dodgshun said she saw the incident unfold.
"I was sitting on the rocks above the high tide line, as my boyfriend and three friends were scuba diving," she said.
"As they surfaced at the end of the dive, one of the missing man's friends ran over to ask if they'd seen him. They hadn't seen him, and unfortunately none of them had enough air left in their tanks to go and look without endangering themselves.
"We did spot the missing man's float, which was out towards the shipping channel, where a very large container ship was coming through. My boyfriend swam back out towards where the man had last been seen, but couldn't go below the surface due to having no air, and visibility was not good enough to allow him to see anything.
"At that point it was about 20 minutes since the man had last been seen and emergency services arrived about 10 minutes later."
Lee Dalli, from the St George Spearfishing Club and the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen's Association, said Bare Island was a popular spot for spearfishing.
"About 100 metres out from Bare Island there's a bombora - or a raised area of reef - and anything like that is a fish attractor.
"Unfortuntely it's also very popular with boat traffic. We've had two members run over by boats. They've survived, but both with horrendous injuries."
He said the currents near the island were known for being very strong.
"The conditions [on Sunday] were really not that big, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a current."
Mr Dalli did not know the circumstances leading up to the man's disappearance, but said the most common threats to spearfishers were boats, exhaustion and sharks.
"The great white shark, being protected, means we've had a lot of sightings from members right along the coast."