Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Another Shark Attack in West Australia
WESTERN Australia's reputation as the world's deadliest place for shark attacks is hurting tourism and the federal government should consider lifting the ban on fishing of great whites, the state government says.
With the search called off on Sunday afternoon (WST) for the great white believed to have killed 24-year-old Perth man Ben Linden on Saturday, WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said he was "very distressed" by the death and the state's shark attack toll of five deaths in 10 months.
He issued orders on Saturday for staff from his department to kill any sharks measuring four to five metres in length - the estimated size of the shark that attacked Mr Linden - in the area of the latest attack.
The 4m killer, dubbed Brutus by surfers near Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, mauled Mr Linden as he surfed with a mate about 9am.
"Five fatalities in Western Australia (in 10 months) is unprecedented and cause for great alarm," Mr Moore said.
"It won't be helping our tourism industry and those people who want to come here to enjoy an ocean experience will be turned away because of this situation."
Mr Linden's girlfriend Alana Noakes said yesterday she had been left devastated by the tragedy.
On her Facebook page she said of her boyfriend: "Ben was the most amazing man, he lit up the lives of all who knew him."
"He was the most talented, good-natured, beautiful person I've ever met. He was the love of my life, my best friend, my rock and my soulmate."
Mr Linden's own Facebok page was flooded with moving and emotional tributes.
Dave Beckett wrote that Mr Linden was one of the most genuine blokes he knew.
"I'll treasure our chats and regret the number of times we planned to do something but didn't," Mr Beckett said.
Another friend wrote: "Your energy, drive and passion for music, surfing and life in general will be greatly missed bud."
Cabinetmaker Mr Linden was also a singer and bassist in Perth band Fools Rush In, which featured on radio Triple J's national unearthed segment.
Local police and volunteers are expected to continue to comb beaches for Mr Linden's remains, which have yet to be recovered, while beaches in the immediate area will remain closed for at least two days.
Fisheries officials called off the hunt for the shark yesterday afternoon because they had not seen any large sharks in the area, but Mr Moore said he would lift a protection order on great whites if the federal government did the same.
He said he would lobby Canberra to allow commercial and recreational fishing of the species, saying there was anecdotal evidence great white numbers had recovered significantly since they were first protected in Australia in the 1990s.
However, he would not be sanctioning state shark hunts or culls.
Shark nets were not the answer, either, as they killed whales and other marine life.
Mr Moore said the community was "divided" over reducing great white shark numbers and that more research was needed to plot their migration and feeding habits.
Swimmers and surfers could reduce the risk of attack by not entering the water at dawn, dusk or on overcast days, the fisheries minister said.
"Regrettably, people are being taken by sharks in numbers which we have never seen before," he said.
"We need to try to work out to the best of our capacity what is causing this to happen.
"I'm totally perplexed."
Mr Moore said he was also alarmed at reports in today's The Sunday Times that some people had spotted a large shark near Wedge Island this week but appeared to have not reported it to authorities.
"I do ask people if they are going swimming or boating and they see a shark, please report the shark to the Water Police," he said.
A jet-ski rider who tried to retrieve the Mr Linden's body said yesterday it was a "massive, massive white shark" and "there was blood everywhere".
The shark tried to knock Matt Holmes, 22, off his jet ski as he attempted to pull the man on to the back of his craft.
Then the shark returned to take the lifeless body for a second time.
"By the time I got out there half of him had been taken and the shark was circling," Mr Holmes said of the attack.
"I tried to lean off the side and pull him on the back, but as I did that, the shark came back and nudged the jet ski to try to knock me off.
"When I came back the second time, he took the rest of him. I just thought about his family and if he had kids. I just wanted to get him to shore. I gave it everything I had."
When the victim's mate yelled for help, Mr Holmes, who was towing a friend at the time, turned his jet ski to help.
"I was towing my mate on the back of the jet ski and just in front of us saw a guy get attacked by a shark," he said at the scene.
"I just took my mate to the shore and went straight out and there was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive white shark circling the body.
"I reached to grab the body and the shark came at me on the jet ski and tried to knock me off and I did another loop and when I came back to the body the shark took it."
Yesterday's fatal mauling comes just three months after 33-year-old diver Peter Kurmann was killed by a shark off the South-West coast.
Bodyboarder Kyle Burden, 21, was killed near Bunker Bay in September, Bryn Martin, 64, disappeared while swimming off Cottesloe in October and American George Thomas Wainwright, 32, died after an attack while scuba diving off Rottnest Island, also in October.
Last month, 62-year-old surf lifesaver Martin Kane was rescued by a fellow paddler when a shark attacked his surf ski at Mullaloo Beach.
Department of Fisheries shark expert Rory McAuley said there had been an "unprecedented" number of fatal shark attacks off WA over the past two years.
Local resident and volunteer nurse Anne McGuiness, who has lived on Wedge Island for 36 years, was among the first to arrive on the scene yesterday.
"It was very, very sad indeed," she said.
"There was a group of about 12 boys surfing and when I got here they were very distraught on the beach."
Witnesses said the victim and his friend were only 80m from shore when the attack happened and the pair had walked several kilometres to reach the remote surf spot.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is causing this spate of shark attacks off WA. Perhaps it's their continued insistence in offering themselves up as appetizers, which is the main contributing factor to these attacks. I'm just sayin'...
If you don't want to get attacked by a shark... stay out of the water...!!! That's like trying to ban trains because you like playing on the train tracks... Honestly, some people's kids...