ONLOOKERS were in a state of shock as Tathra awoke on Thursday to news of a local woman killed in a shark attack.
According to police, 63-year-old Christine Armstrong was swimming with a group of friends when the apparent shark attack occurred.
Witnesses reported seeing a three-to-four-metre-long shark near the surface at the time Ms Armstrong disappeared.
All members of the group, who regularly swim between the beach and Tathra Wharf, were being treated for shock.
“Emergency services are doing what they can for them but naturally they're shocked and horrified by what’s occurred,” a police spokesperson said.
While emergency services including Bega Police and Far South Coast Marine Area Command, Ambulance paramedics and Tathra Surf Life Saving Club rescuers scoured the water, the beach was lined with people wondering what exactly had happened.
One local, Bob Armstrong, said he had lived in Tathra for 60 years and never heard of a shark attack before now.
“I’ve had an association with the surf club for many years and in the early days, during the ‘50s, we patrolled around the cliffs,” Mr Armstrong said.
“Sharks were sometimes seen in the surf, but this is the first one, the first attack I’ve heard of.
“A few people have drowned here, but those were people who didn’t know this beach.
“That group has been swimming there every morning for years.”
Another Tathra resident, Molly Carroll, said the news was “a shock”.
“I was down on the beach earlier, I guess before all this happened, and saw those swimmers going in.
“Then up at home I heard the helicopter.
“It’s an eerie feeling.”
Another young local, who preferred not to be named, said she also raced to the beach when she heard police sirens and the helicopter overhead.
“It’s a real shock because you never see sharks here,” she said.
“They used to fish for them off the wharf maybe, but other than that…”