Woman out swimming with friends was ‘eaten whole’ by a shark and no one realised

Woman out swimming with friends was ‘eaten whole’ by a shark and no one realised

Christine Armstrong was enjoying a routine swim off the coast of Tathra, New South Wales, when tragedy struck

(NSW Police/iStock)

As frightening instances of shark attacks continue to make headlines, one terrible incident has been thrust back into the limelight.

On 3 April, 2014, 63-year-old Australian Christine Armstrong was out enjoying her routine morning swim with her husband and four friends when tragedy struck.

The route from Tathra beach to Tathra wharf, in New South Wales, had become a daily ritual for the group but, on that fateful morning, Christine was suffering from back problems so decided to turn back early.

It was a decision that would cost her her life.

Christine’s husband, Rob, and the four others kept swimming out to the wharf, at which point they turned to swim back.

While en route to the shore, “Rob saw a seagull flying close to his head and immediately looked up - seagulls, of course, being a warning sign of large fish or sharks,” Bega police inspector Jason Edmunds later told ABC News.

Then, Rob saw a fin.

"I stopped and the fin started coming up and I thought: dolphin? No, that's not a dolphin," the devastated widower told the same news outlet.

He and the friends rushed back to dry land, assuming that Christine was already there.

"We thought everything was safe and we just hugged each other (on the beach) and then we found that Chris wasn't in the change rooms," Rob told SBS News in a separate interview.

"We immediately got in the IRB (inflatable rescue boat), went out and very shortly we found evidence that Chris was no more.”

Shark Kills 63-year-old Australian

Rob believes that she was, essentially, swallowed whole by a large predator, with witnesses from the beach reporting seeing a 10-13-foot shark close to the surface of the water near the time of the attack.

He told SBS News that he was“certain Chris would not have known what had hit her."

"The shark was such a size and it's consumed her basically completely - she wouldn't have even known it happened," he added.

Her swimming cap and goggles were found on the evening of the attack, along with a small amount of human remains.

Rob, who had been married to Christine for 44 years, explained that he and his wife had done “everything together” since they were 19.

"I've never gone to bed without kissing her, or woken up without kissing her - ever," he told ABC News, just three days after her death.

"Now there's no-one there."

Nevertheless, he admitted that though he wasn't coping well with the loss of his beloved wife, he had previously promised her that he wouldn't give up if something happened to her.

''We made a pact, me and Chris, many years ago that if ever one of us went, we would live on,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“It's my duty to show respect to Chris and make sure I live as full a life as possible.”

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