Australian woman bitten by shark while swimming in Sydney Harbor

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An Australian woman has suffered a “serious injury” to her right leg after being attacked by a suspected bull shark in Sydney Harbor, authorities say. 

The victim, identified in Australian media reports as 29-year-old Lauren O’Neill, was bitten on Monday night while swimming in the eastern Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay. Her neighbors reportedly dialed emergency services and came to her aid. 

“I looked outside and Lauren was sort of pulling herself off the side of the harbor and [was] trying to get to [safety],” one neighbor, Michael Porter, told Nine News, describing how he heard screaming in the area. “Her leg was trailing behind her and the water behind her was all red with blood.” 

Another neighbor, veterinarian Fiona Crago, applied a tourniquet to O’Neill’s wounds, the station also reported. 


“She was severely mauled on her right leg and losing a lot of blood. I just focused what I had to do… which was stem the blood flow and bandaged the leg,” Crago told Nine News. 

O’Neill lives in the area and witnesses say she was swimming close to moored boats but outside of a private, netted harbor pool near her apartment block, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. 

New South Wales police said in a statement that the victim suffered a “serious injury” to her right leg, Reuters reports. Authorities believe she was attacked by a bull shark and has since been taken to a hospital in stable condition, according to The Associated Press. 


A bull shark

A bull shark is seen near Fiji. Authorities believe the Australian woman was attacked Monday by a bull shark. (Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Shark attacks in Sydney Harbor are rare but the area is known to be an important habitat for bull sharks and their young, the news agency says. 

In 2009, an Australian navy clearance diver was mauled by a bull shark during a training exercise in the harbor. The attack tore off his arm and part of his leg. 

A female bull shark

A female bull shark is seen near Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. (Luis Javier Sandoval/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)


In February 2022, a swimmer at a Sydney beach died after being attacked by what witnesses described as a 15-foot great white shark. It was Sydney’s first fatal shark attack since 1963. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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