Surf Life Saving NSW Duty Officer Les Pepper went to Wooli to search for the shark responsible for the fatal attack on Saturday.
Surf Life Saving NSW Duty Officer Les Pepper went to Wooli to search for the shark responsible for the fatal attack on Saturday.

Sombre scenes as authorities search for shark

In 35 years of service Les Pepper has never had to attend the scene of a fatal shark attack.

He is the President of Woolgoolga Surf Life Saving Club and SLSNSW Duty officer for the area stretching from Nambucca to Minnie Water.

He went to Wilsons Headland to search for the shark involved in Saturday's fatal attack on 15-year-old Minnie Water boy Mani Hart-Deville.

"It was very sombre. It was very quiet and people were walking around and I think everyone knew the kid, and some people I spoke to knew him, it wasn't very nice," Mr Pepper said.

"They were saying how much of a good kid he was and how much of a tragedy it was.

"I don't force people to talk about things if they don't want to and not many people wanted to talk about it but that wasn't my job. My job was to warn people about the shark attack and look for it."

A drone was used to search for the shark yesterday but the rainy conditions made it difficult.
A drone was used to search for the shark yesterday but the rainy conditions made it difficult.

Mr Pepper launched a drone to help locate the shark but rain cut the flight short.

"It's a very long open beach and on the headland there was quite a nice wave yesterday.

"It's a popular spot for surfers and very remote to get to. Even to the headland, you have to go down a dirt track and walk to the beach - you have to make an effort to get there, you just don't drive up and get out."

15-year-old Mani Hart-Deville has been described as clever, artistic and individual.
15-year-old Mani Hart-Deville has been described as clever, artistic and individual. Instagram

Beaches in the area were closed for 24 hours following the attack at around 2.30pm on Saturday and Mr Pepper made sure there were no people in the water. He was also involved in launching drum lines to help catch the shark.

"It's tragic for the family and and people involved - it's a terrible thing to happen."

He believes shark numbers are increasing in the area.

"Personally I think shark numbers are increasing. That's just my personal opinion from talking to fishermen. And you can't cull them anymore and whales are bringing them in and the numbers of whales are definitely increasing."


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