It is the fifth fatal shark attack in WA waters in less than a year. The state is rapidly gaining worldwide notoriety as the planet’s deadliest place for shark attacks, a reputation which could damage tourism. Witnesses believe the shark was a five-metre great white.
Fisheries officers tried unsuccessfully to find the shark. They say locating the remains of the victim, Perth man Ben Linden, 24, is the priority but if they encounter the shark they will kill it.
State Fisheries Minister Norman Moore ordered the shark hunted down and destroyed. He questioned whether great white sharks should still be on the protected species list.
Just last week, Moore banned any move to introduce shark tourism, in the form of activities like cage diving, into Western Australia because of fears that it could lure even more sharks.
“I have decided that Western Australia will not be the place for shark cage tourism, like those currently operating in South Australia and South Africa,” Moore said.
Moore said said publicity following the latest attack “won’t be helping our tourism industry”, adding that “people who want to come here to enjoy an ocean experience will be turned away because of this situation”.
Police, rangers, fisheries department officials and medical evacuation teams rushed to the scene after the attack was reported. The site is remote and without electricity or running water.
Local surfers are reported to have noticed the shark earlier last week. They had nicknamed it Brutus for its “monster” size. The beach was closed after the attack.
After Western Australia’s previous fatal shark attack, near Busselton in the state’s southwest in April this year, the Mayor of Busselton voiced fears that tourism would suffer unless the state government started killing sharks that approached the shore.
“I don’t want to build up too much of a scare campaign, but there is absolutely no doubt that it is impacting on our tourism and it’s not good enough,” Busselton Mayor Ian Stubbs told ABC News. “These sharks that come in close need to be exterminated. The State Government needs to act and they need to act now.”
That shark was also reported to be a large great white.
The combination of tourist beaches and sharks evokes Steven Spielberg’s 1975 thriller movie Jaws, set in a fictional beach resort town that derives most of its income from tourism.
Recent shark attacks in Western Australia include:
30 March 2012. Local resident Peter Kurmann is killed by great white as he dives for crayfish with his brother about 1.7 kilometres off Stratham Beach near Busselton.
22 October 2011: American George Thomas Wainwright, 32, dies after being attacked while scuba diving off Rottnest Island;
10 October 2011: Bryn Martin disappears on his daily swim outside the Indiana teahouse at Cottesloe Beach, Perth’s premier coastal venue. A great white shark is suspected.
4 September 2011: A shark kills Kyle James Burden while he bodyboards with friends at Bunker Bay near Dunsborough.
Eight other fatal shark attacks have taken place in WA waters since 1993.
Written by : Peter Needham