Family of shark attack victim say he wouldn’t want the shark killed: ‘He loved nature’

When someone is killed, it’s natural for grieving family members to want to see justice delivered to the perpetrator. But now, one family is urging forgiveness — for the great white shark that killed their loved one.

Sydney, Australia recently had their first fatal shark attack in 60 years, according to BBC. The victim was identified as Simon Nellist, a 35-year-old diving instructor originally from the UK who was swimming in the beach training for a charity event.

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News of the shocking, untimely death made headlines around the world, and hit especially hard for the victim’s family and friends.

Nellist was reportedly engaged and about to get married after delaying his wedding due to COVID restrictions.

The news was especially tragic given Simon’s lifelong love for the ocean, and respect for all its creatures.

“Everything that is connected to Simon is connected to the ocean,” friend Della Ross told 7NEWS. “The news hit us like a truck because he was one of the people who make this earth lighter.”

The great white has not yet been found. According to the BBC, authorities are searching for the shark, but it’s not clear what they plan to do once its found.

But the victim’s family has a surprising suggestion: protect it and let it live. That’s what Simon would’ve wanted.

“I don’t think Simon would want the shark to be killed,” the victim’s aunt Jacqui Seager told the Daily Mail. “He loved nature.”

She says that her nephew’s killing was “absolutely horrendous,” and a “shock,” but says it was a “freak accident.”

“He swam with sharks before,” Seager said. “This isn’t the first time he’s gone out and seen them but he would still go out swimming. That’s brave.”

“I don’t think he ever thought they would hurt him. Sadly, this time it managed to get to him.”

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A friend of Simon’s also said that he loved and respected wildlife, and took every precaution he could.

“He was massively into wildlife and knew exactly what he was doing. He wasn’t daft. It’s just a freak accident,” the friend told The Sun.

“Simon was doing his diving and he would send us the most amazing videos of the wildlife out there. He was so respectful of the wildlife.”

In addition to being a dedicated lover of ocean life, Simon is remembered as a heroic vet of the Royal Air Force.

“Simon was amazing. That’s all there is to say really. He was just the best,” they added. “He was the nicest, kindest human. It is a huge loss.”

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After his killing, authorities reportedly set up more “drum lines,” traps set up to attract large sharks and intended to prevent shark attacks. But ironically, Simon had opposed these controversial traps, saying they did more to harm sharks than protect people.

“Shark net and drum lines protect no one and kill all kinds of marine life each year,” he wrote on Facebook six months ago, according to

The BBC reports that, even though the rare shark attack has shocked locals, there is “little community appetite” for killing sharks. It remains unclear what authorities will do with the shark once located.

But his family and friends clearly don’t think it’s a justice Simon would’ve wanted.

It’s tragic that Simon was killed in such a horrific way, and our hearts go out to the victim’s family and friends.

But it’s also inspiring to see them honor Simon’s legacy by asking that the shark be protected, even after everything that has happened.

Do you agree that the shark should be spared? Share this story with your thoughts.