Della Ross, a friend of Mr Nellist through diving, told Channel Seven on Thursday, “Everything that is connected to Simon, to me is connected to the ocean. The news hit us like a truck because he is really one of the people who make this Earth better.”
Mr Nellist had been a member of the Sydney-based Scubathlon social diving club, traveling with members and his partner to the Philippines in September 2019.
In one of his diving videos, shared to Facebook in March 2020, he noted there were “lots of sharks today at Bushrangers Bay” in Shellharbour, south of Wollongong.
“We counted around 10 gray nurse sharks. Saw an eagle ray at the gravel loader [dive site] but didn’t get a picture,” he captioned the video.
Mr Nellist and his Australian fiancee also went diving at Wolf Rock, off Queensland’s Rainbow Beach, in mid-2021.
“We had a great couple of dives today,” Mr Nellist wrote online. “Awesome and professional crew, and a couple of lovely dives. Lots of pregnant gray nurse [sharks], heaps of different schooling fish, whip ray, bull ray, puffers, snapper, crocodile needle fish chilling near the surface. We could hear the humpbacks singing.”
Scubathlon posted a tribute to Mr Nellist online on Friday.
“Dear Simon, thank you for having been on this Earth. No words could describe what we feel, as no words could console your loved ones,” the club’s post said.
“You knew how to love, play and work, how to stand your ground. You volunteered your help on our courses, always assuming the most difficult roles. You supported us through sad times, joined in the fun in happy times.
“This is a huge loss, immeasurable. Our sincerest condolences to [your partner] and your parents, to everyone who loved you, to all people on this planet because the world has become a much sadder place without you.”
Adding to the tributes after his death, the Queens Hotel in the town of Penzance, in Cornwall, remembered their former staff member.
“We are shocked and saddened by the news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Simon Nellist and his family, fiancee and friends at this sad time,” the business said online.
“Simon was a wonderful man who worked here for several years before moving to Australia – he was a valued member of staff and was always popular with guests and all fellow team members. Rest in peace, Simon.”
On Thursday morning, Maroubra MP Michael Daley said he understood that, while the victim was not local to the Little Bay and Malabar area, he “came here and swam nearly every day”.
Authorities confirmed human remains were found at the scene. It is Sydney’s first fatal shark attack since 1963.
All Beaches reopened on Friday across Waverley, Randwick and Sutherland Shire council areas, from Bondi to Cronulla, after their closure following the incident.
The Malabar Magic Ocean Swim, which was scheduled for this Sunday, has been canceled.
Event organizers said that the decision was made “out of respect for the swimmer and his family”.
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