A woman in Sydney Harbor, identified as 29-year-old Lauren O’Neill, suffered a “serious injury” to her right leg in a suspected bull shark attack. The incident occurred on Monday night while O’Neill was swimming in the eastern Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay. Emergency services were called by neighbors who came to her aid. One neighbor described the scene, stating that O’Neill was pulling herself out of the harbor with her leg trailing behind her, and the water was red with blood. Veterinarian Fiona Crago, another neighbor, applied a tourniquet to O’Neill’s wounds, stemming the blood flow.
O’Neill, who lives in the area, was reportedly swimming close to moored boats but outside of a private, netted harbor pool near her apartment block. New South Wales police stated that she suffered a “serious injury” to her right leg, and authorities believe she was attacked by a bull shark. O’Neill has been taken to a hospital in stable condition. While shark attacks in Sydney Harbor are rare, the area is known to be an important habitat for bull sharks and their young.
The incident brings attention to the presence of sharks in Sydney Harbor, with bull sharks being known to inhabit the waters. In 2009, an Australian navy clearance diver was mauled by a bull shark during a training exercise in the harbor, resulting in the loss of his arm and part of his leg. In February 2022, a swimmer at a Sydney beach died after being attacked by what witnesses described as a 15-foot great white shark, marking Sydney’s first fatal shark attack since 1963.