Yorke Peninsula town shattered after Khai Cowley killed by a great white shark

Locals are shattered after the death of teenage surfer Khai Cowley (pictured centre), who was mauled by a suspected great white shark
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The locals of a small beach town are shattered after a teenager was killed by a shark on a popular beach, as harrowing new details emerged.

Khai Cowley was fatally mauled by the suspected great white while surfing at remote Ethel Beach on the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, about 1.30pm on Thursday.

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Emergency services rushed to the popular surfing spot in Innes National Park but were unable to save the 15-year-old's life.

Devastated residents living nearby are struggling to come to terms with his death following the shocking incident.

Ryan Valente, a local skipper with Reef Encounters who knows the Marion Bay region well, said it was unusual to see great whites in the area and could not recall any similar incidents.

Locals are shattered after the death of teenage surfer Khai Cowley (pictured centre), who was mauled by a suspected great white shark

Locals are shattered after the death of teenage surfer Khai Cowley (pictured centre), who was mauled by a suspected great white shark

“It's the stuff nightmares are made of,” Valente told ABC Radio on Friday.

'Yesterday itself was a very grim day in terms of conditions: lightning, strong winds and it was quite a dark day.

'The city is a bit in shock, I think. Our thoughts go out to the family involved in the tragic incident.”

Sean Hanna, who has been coming to the beach for 40 years, visited the beach Friday morning after hearing about the boy's death.

“I came here to pay my respects to a young surfer,” he told the station The advertiser.

Mr Hanna praised Khai for doing what he loved, even though he said conditions in the water were not ideal at the time the teenager was killed.

“It wasn't the best, there was a lot of whitewater, but he wanted to be part of it and any surfer can understand that.”

Luke Winter, who lives in Port Noarlunga, about a four-hour drive north of Ethel Beach, said he had known Khai most of his life.

“They are very well known in the surfing community, which only makes this news even more tragic,” he told the newspaper.

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The 38-year-old man, who has two boys of his own, said there were other children on the beach on Thursday afternoon who saw the terrifying incident.

Khai was surfing at Ethel Beach (pictured), a popular spot near the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, on Thursday afternoon when he was killed by the shark

Khai was surfing at Ethel Beach (pictured), a popular spot near the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, on Thursday afternoon when he was killed by the shark

Khai was surfing at Ethel Beach (pictured), a popular spot near the Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, on Thursday afternoon when he was killed by the shark

Earlier, another local resident told the newspaper that the shark had grabbed the boy's leg before another man paddled into the water to save him, but that he could not be saved by the time he was brought back to shore .

They said the shark was circling the couple and there was a lot of blood in the water.

Surfing SA paid tribute to talented surfer 'grom' from Maslin Beach in Adelaide's south.

“Khai was deeply involved in our surfing community as his passion for surfing came from a family with deep surfing roots in South Africa,” the group said on Instagram.

'He was a cheerful, friendly and respectful boy, much loved by his surfing mates and he will be greatly missed in our community and on the water.'

Andrew Fox, a researcher at the Rodney Fox Shark Museum, said Thursday that great white sharks are ambush predators and the dark conditions may have increased their activity.

“They're more motivated: bigger swell, dirty water,” he told ABC Radio.

“Anything that increases the likelihood of an ambush predator.”

Residents paid tribute to the talented surfer (pictured) who had a passion for surfing

Residents paid tribute to the talented surfer (pictured) who had a passion for surfing

Residents paid tribute to the talented surfer (pictured) who had a passion for surfing

Emergency services were unable to save the 15-year-old (pictured) after first responders pulled him from the water following the shark attack

Emergency services were unable to save the 15-year-old (pictured) after first responders pulled him from the water following the shark attack

Emergency services were unable to save the 15-year-old (pictured) after first responders pulled him from the water following the shark attack

Khai's death caps a horror year for beachgoers in South Africa, with three people killed by sharks and another two injured in the state's waters in 2023.

Teacher Simon Baccanello, 46, died in a suspected shark attack in May while surfing at Walkers Rock Beach, about 365 kilometers west of Adelaide, before 55-year-old Tod Gendle was killed in October while surfing at Granites Beach on the west coast of the stands.

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Their bodies have not been recovered.

Professor Charlie Huveneers, a shark expert at Flinders University, said the number of bites had increased globally over the past four decades but they were still uncommon.

Human population growth, habitat destruction, declining water quality, climate change and the changing distribution of sharks and their prey have all likely contributed.

Dr. Huveneers said there are three main ways to reduce shark attacks and serious injuries, including reducing the overlap between sharks and humans by setting up swimming enclosures or aerial surveillance, using personal electrical deterrents and using bite-resistant wetsuits.

Locals said conditions were not ideal for surf at the time Khai was attacked by the animal, while a local skipper said he could not remember recent shark attacks on the beach

Locals said conditions were not ideal for surf at the time Khai was attacked by the animal, while a local skipper said he could not remember recent shark attacks on the beach

Locals said conditions were not ideal for surf at the time Khai was attacked by the animal, while a local skipper said he could not remember recent shark attacks on the beach

Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas said his thoughts were with Khai's family.

“I can't think of anything more horrific, especially at this time of year,” he told Channel Nine.

Mr Malinauskas said the government was looking at a range of deterrents, but the remoteness of South Australian beaches made it a difficult task.

“We have a coastline in South Australia that is effectively the equivalent of NSW and Victoria combined,” he said.

'It is impossible to network the entire area.

“But we have seen 11 fatal shark attacks in South Australia since the year 2000, so the fact that we have seen three this summer is startling and concerning.”

a GoFundMe The organization, set up by Khai's family to help pay for his funeral costs, had raised more than $40,000 as of Friday afternoon — more than five times its goal.

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