Surfer Missing On WA South Coast, Suspected Fatal Shark Attack

9 Oct 2020 7 Share

Photo: Mark Bennett via ABC News

Photo: Mark Bennett via ABC News

COASTALWATCH | NEWS

A male adult surfer is missing and emergency authorities are attending the scene of a suspected shark attack at Kelp Beds in Wylie Bay, near Esperance, on WA's south coast, ABC News is reporting. The search and rescue mission is currently "ongoing".

Witnesses reported the potential shark attack just before 11am local time, following a shark sighting in the area at 9.20am.

Police say a surfboard has been found floating in the water. 

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the missing man was in the water with other surfers and that one of the surfers tried to rescue him from the water but was unable to do so.

"It sounds like it's a very, very difficult and very serious situation," McGowan said.

Shark attacks are a horribly familiar scene to the area, with 17-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer being fatally bitten by a white in 2017 at the same beach, and 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard losing his arm and other hand to a shark bite in 2014.

In January, diver Gary Johnson died after a shark attack off Cull Island, several kilometres from the coast of Esperance.

Kelp Beds is the area's go-to surf spot, a few kilometres out of town.

Coastalwatch spoke to local surfer and Esperance Boardriders President Brent Moss, who surfed there earlier in the morning. It was a beautiful spring day, clean, good waves. Brent had left the water at 8.30am to attend to his surf school business in town. The apparent attack occurred around 9.15.

Brent, like everyone else, seemed uncertain as to the exact identity of the victim but suspects it’s a lifelong local whose car was visible at Kelpies in the TV footage. “He’s a local born and bred. High school all the way through. If it is him, this one hits close to home. There’s a wife and a couple of kids.”

Ironically shark sightings have been rare lately. 

“There’s a group in town who are trying to make something happen” regarding shark mitigation in the area. 

There are tag receiver buoys in the area but “they rely on a shark being tagged, and there’s a lot of sharks”.

If the worst fears are confirmed, this will be the fifth fatal shark attack on the Australian coast since June, four of which have been on surfers.

More reporting on this in the coming days.

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