The family of a British man who was killed in a shark attack off the coast of Australia said he had a “rare gift” of being able to connect with others.
Simon Nellist, who was 35, was fatally attacked in front of horrified onlookers in Sydney’s Little Bay on Wednesday afternoon.
He had been training for a charity swim when it was believed a great white shark mauled him.
In a tribute shared on the BBChis family said Simon was a gentle, kind and wonderful human being.
He had grown up in the Cornwall village of Ludgvan before emigrating and he worked as a diving instructor and was a “wonderful human being” and a “proud Cornishman”, they said.
The tribute said: “Simon was a gentle, kind and wonderful human being. He was a cherished fiancée, son, brother, uncle and friend.
“Simon was funny, compassionate and always had time for people. He had a rare gift of instantly being able to connect with others, gaining their trust and respect.”
They added: “Simon had a great passion for nature and the sea, as well as being a very talented photographer.”
His family was “very proud of him” and “would miss him terribly.”
Emergency services were called to Little Bay at around 4.35pm local time on Wednesday after reports that a swimmer had been attacked by a shark.
The incident, believed to be the first fatal shark attack in Sydney since 1963, prompted the immediate closure of more than a dozen beaches in the area until Friday.
A spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said: “Based on footage provided by the public, including eyewitness accounts, DPI shark biologists believe that a white shark, at least three meters in length, was likely responsible.”
It is believed Mr Nellist was training for the 5k Malabar Ocean Swim, due to take place this weekend when he was killed.
The event has been canceled as a mark of respect, organizers said.
An event statement read: “The organizing committee extends our thoughts and prayers to the family of the swimmer who was so tragically taken yesterday.
“Out of respect for the swimmer and his family, and following wide consultation with Randwick Council and experienced, senior Surf Life Saving personnel, we believe that canceling the 2022 swim is appropriate.”