Entertainment And News

Fisherman Who Filmed Swimmer Getting Mauled To Death By Shark Criticized For Insensitive Video

Photo: Twitter / Facebook
Little Bay Beach and Simon Nellist

A 35-year-old British man named Simon Nellist fell victim to Sydney, Australia’s first fatal shark attack in nearly 60 years on Wednesday.

While the police have not formally identified the victim and the family has yet to speak out, one of Nellist’s friends confirmed his tragic death to the public after the news broke.

Video footage of the Sydney shark attack has been criticized for its insensitivity.

Fishermen and witnesses were standing on a nearby shelf off the coast of Little Bay before the shark attack happened around 4 p.m.

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New South Wales police said in a statement that they arrived at Buchan Point just after 4:30 p.m., announcing that they "located human remains in the water" after searching the area.

"Unfortunately this person had suffered catastrophic injuries and there was nothing paramedics could do," an NSW Ambulance spokesperson said in a statement, according to The Guardian

But it seems like people are more concerned about the optics involving the video and the witnesses' reaction than the actual attack itself.

The video has been labeled a 'snuff film.'

Some have criticized the sharing of the viral video and compared it "films" that make a horror spectacle out of actual human death.

A witness spoke to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, telling the story of how he had been fishing before he heard a man being attacked by the shark.

"He was yelling at first, and then when he went down there were so many splashes," the witness told the outlet. "It was terrible."

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The fisherman can be seen in the video that was taken by another witness, both people being targeted by online trolls who think there was anything else they could have done to help.

“No one sounds remorseful in the video. This guy just continues to record and the other man looks like he’s still fishing,” one person wrote on Facebook.

The man was not still fishing, in fact, he had already reeled in his line and stood shocked at the scene playing out in front of him.

“The video is disturbing, the fact someone was swimming while someone else is fishing on shore? This whole thing is disturbing,” wrote someone else.

But many people came to defend these people as well, arguing that these people were likely frozen in fear or shock.

While it's fair to say that there was, tragically, very little the fisherman could do in the moment, the way the video has been spread online does show a level of insensitivity towards human life.

This man's traumatic final moments should not be made into a spectacle. However, the witnesses don't deserve hate either.

Dr. Daryl McPhee, who specializes in shark-human interactions, spoke to 7news in defense of the witnesses.

“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.”

While some might find it odd that their first reaction was to start filming, an argument could be made that filming could help authorities piece together what happened and where the shark might have gone off to.

However, McPhee doesn’t care about any of that.

“The victim’s family and friends should be foremost in our minds,” he said. “We need to let the authorities get on with their investigations.”

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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.