THE shark that killed a man in the waters off Western Australia bounced off the board of another surfer before fatally attacking him, police said yesterday.
WA’s first fatal shark attack of 2013 happened in Gracetown in the state’s southwest about 9am WST yesterday, when the 35-year-old was mauled horribly.
Eyewitnesses described how a nearby surfer dragged the injured man onto his board and ferried him to shore.
Those who witnessed the aftermath described how the victim was missing his left arm and part of his right leg.
Beach-goers looked on in horror as the man could not be revived. His yellow and green surfboard was recovered.
The state’s fisheries department issued a catch and kill order for the shark, saying there was an imminent threat of more attacks in the area.
Acting Sergeant Norm Giocas of Margaret River police said the shark had initially struck out at one surfer in the water, before fatally wounding another.
“From what we understand, the shark bounced off the surfboard of one surfer before attacking the other,” Acting Sgt Giocas said.
Police spoke to the man’s tearful friends and relatives when they arrived at the beach as word of the tragedy spread.
His body was taken from the area by helicopter.
Moments after the catch and kill order, Surf Life Saving WA reported a large shark had been spotted offshore of Ellensbrook homestead near Gracetown.
The beaches near Lefthanders surf break were closed for 24 hours, as were an eight-kilometre stretch of beach from Umbies to South Point and on to Huzzas, North Point and the main Gracetown beach.
Gracetown is the site of three fatal shark attacks in the past 10 years.
Surfer Bradley Smith was taken by a great white at a beach near the town in 2004, and another surfer, Nicholas Edwards, was killed by a shark at nearby South Point in 2010.
Yesterday’s attack came weeks after abalone diver Greg Pickering was bitten on the face and body by a five-metre great white while diving off the coast of Esperance.
It also came as some of the world’s finest chefs – including Heston Blumenthal – gathered in WA’s southwest fora tourism event. AAP understands Mr Blumenthal was surfing in waters near the site of the attack on Friday.
Many school leavers are also holidaying in the area.