Search for shark attack victim's remains
March 20, 2005 - 2:04PM
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A search is underway for the remains of a charter boat deckhand, killed by a shark as he snorkelled with tourists off the West Australian coast.
The shark attack which killed the 26-year-old man is the third in Western Australia in four-and-a-half years.
The deckhand was taken and killed instantly by a six-metre shark about 2pm (WST) on Saturday as he snorkelled with passengers from a luxury vessel near Geraldton, 430km north of Perth, police said.
The charter vessel, the Matrix, was on its maiden voyage on the Perth to Kimberley route when the tragedy happened.
It was moored at Wreck Point, in the south-east corner of Pelseart Island, which is part of the Abrolhos Islands group, 60km west from the port of Geraldton.
"A 26-year-old deckhand was in the sea snorkelling with passengers of the vessel when he was seen to be taken by a large shark described as being approximately six metres in length," the spokesman said.
"It would appear that he died instantly; his body has not been recovered."
AdvertisementThe boat's skipper raised the alarm and on Sunday police and Department of Fisheries officers are investigating the attack and searching for the man's remains.
Police said it was not clear how many passengers and crew were on the boat but no-one else was attacked or injured.
Staff and crew from the boat are being interviewed.
A Fisheries spokesman said two patrol boats, an operations manager and a senior fisheries officer were working with police.
He said the department's foremost expert of sharks was also on his way to Geraldton to help with the investigation.
The boat's owners, Matrix Ocean Adventures, have declined comment on the tragedy.
A spokesman said the company would rather "let the facts come out" from authorities.
"We still don't know the full details, police are still investigating so I don't want to make a comment on something I don't know the full details of," the spokesman said.
He said the company would be extending sympathy to the man's family and friends "but I think we'll do that in private".
The company's website says the 24-metre Matrix, with six cabins and private ensuite facilities, is the largest and most luxurious catamaran cruising the Kimberley coast.
Launched in September last year, it cruises for up to 13 nights at a time, departing from Broome or Wyndham with a maximum of 12 passengers.
Trevor Beaver, owner of Geraldton's Batavia Coast Dive Academy, said he was not surprised to hear of the fatal shark attack near the southern island.
"I was not really surprised, I believe sharks follow the whale migration patterns along the coast although it is probably a little bit early for that," he said.
The fatal shark attack is the third such incident in WA in four-and-a-half years, with victims being taken in locations along the bottom third of the state's coastline.
Last July, 29-year-old surfer Brad Smith died after being attacked by a shark while surfing off Gracetown, about 270km south-west of Perth.
And in November 2000, 49-year-old Ken Crew died in a shark attack at North Cottesloe beach in Perth in an early morning swim.