Entertainment And News

Aunt Of Man Killed In Sydney Shark Incident Says He ‘Wouldn't Want Shark To Be Killed’

Photo: Facebook
Simon Nellist with man and his girlfriend

Simon Nellist, the 35-year-old man who suffered fatal wounds from a tragic shark encounter in Sydney, Australia yesterday had a “love for nature.”

Nellist worked as a diving instructor in England and was loved by many — his family finally speaking out after their initial moments of shock have waned away to leave room for grief.

The family of Sydney shark attack victim Simon Nellist say he loved nature.

Nellist's aunt, 62-year-old Jacqui Seager, spoke with the Daily Mail and talked about Nellist’s story — making sure not to throw blame at the shark or anyone else that was involved in the tragic accident.

“Simon always loved the sea. He was always very close to it,” she said of the man. “He loved wildlife and the world. He had a real love affair with nature. He was a very kind and considerate man who just loved life.”

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Just off the shore of Little Bay Beach, witnesses stood on a rock shelf, shocked and filmed the encounter — speaking their reactions to the scene that laid out in front of them.

The horrific, graphic video was spread all across the internet and used as shock value — being labeled a “snuff film” that sensationalized Nellist's tragic death.

The man who filmed the video and any nearby witnesses were criticized by the internet, but there wasn’t much for them to do aside from calling the authorities (which they had done) and watching.

After the authorities arrived, they had already been too late to the scene as Nellist had already suffered from fatal injuries.

When they recovered Nellist’s body, they set off to search for the shark to try and eliminate the threat, as is the case when these fatal shark encounters occur.

But Seager said that Nellist wouldn’t want the authorities to hunt down and kill the shark that took his life.

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“I don't think Simon would want the shark to be killed. He loved nature,” she explained. “He swam with sharks before. This isn't the first time he's gone out and seen them but he would still go out swimming. That's brave. I don't think he ever thought they would hurt him. Sadly, this time it managed to get to him.”

In recent years, scientists have been slowly phasing out the term “shark attack” in order to change the way society view how sharks behave.

Leonardo Guida, a shark researcher at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, advocates for the term change because “it helps dispel inherent assumptions that sharks are ravenous, mindless man-eating monsters.”

However, people typically react towards animals that hurt humans differently than those that don’t and will do anything to hurt or vilify those animals — pit bulls, for example.

Dr. Daryl McPhee, who specializes in shark-human interactions, spoke to 7news in defense of the witnesses that were criticized for their supposed “inaction.”

“Scapegoating of the witnesses who were at the scene must stop,” he told the news station. “They themselves are traumatized by what they have seen.”

Nellist’s family members, including his girlfriend whom he was getting ready to marry, are traumatized as well.

“She is totally in bits, as are his parents. I spoke to them last night and they are beyond belief. They will never get through this – ever – as this is something you keep with you for life,” she said.

“I just feel so sorry for them. They are planning to get out there as soon as they can but need to sort visas out. Everyone was going to fly out there to see him get married in June or July but sadly it is now in much sadder circumstances.”

Nellist had been training for a swimming event that was going to be held on Sunday but has since been canceled out of respect for his tragic death.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.