WA's fifth fatal shark attack in a year claims 24-year-old surfer Ben Linden
WA police name shark victim
Beaches remain closed in West Australia as police search for the body of shark victim Benjamin Linden.
Surfer killed in shark attack
A male surfer has been killed in a shark attack south of Wedge Island in Western Australia.
TRIBUTES are flowing today for WA's latest shark attack victim Ben Linden as the hunt for the massive 4 metre creature who mauled him to death near Wedge Island, north of Perth yesterday is called off.
The 4m killer, dubbed Brutus by surfers near Wedge Island, 180km north of Perth, mauled Ben Linden as he surfed with a mate about 9am yesterday.
Mr Linden, a talented musician and cabinetmaker, was surfing about 200m off an isolated beach when the fatal attack occurred.
Police will continue to search for Mr Linden's remains along the beach for the next few days but the search for the killer shark in the water has been called off by the Department of Fisheries as nothing has been sighted.
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.”
Yesterday, Fisheries Minister Norman Moore ordered a shark hunt to capture and kill the beast, saying of the unprecedented spate of attacks:
“We seriously have got a problem.”
The Department of Fisheries confirmed this morning that they would continue scouring the waters for the killer shark until at least this afternoon.
Department spokesman Tony Cappelluti said the fisheries patrol boat which had been scouring the water all morning was now back on normal duties.
He said the search for the shark would not be restarted unless there was a confirmed shark sighting in the area.
Mr Cappelluti said if a large shark had been spotted in the area today and it posed a threat, steps would be taken to capture it either by using shark capturing equipment and or baited lines in the water
“If it’s a similar species and a similar size (to the killer shark), we will consider resetting those (baited) lines,” he said earlier today.
The beach where the attack occurred remains closed today but this has not stopped people venturing into the water near where the fatality happened.
“There was a lone surfer out there this morning…people that love the water and love waves, that’s what they live for, they weigh up the risks,” Mr Cappelluti said.
Mr Cappelluti said the department had recommended to the local shire that the beach remained closed until tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile the State Government has today announced it will write to the Federal Government to see if there is any new evidence that shark numbers have increased.
In that letter, due to be sent tomorrow, Fisheries Minister Norman Moore will also seek the Federal Government’s view as to whether sharks still need to be considered a protected species.
But a cull of sharks along the WA coast has been ruled out for the time being by the minister.
“I am very worried because this is now five fatalities in a very short period of time,” Mr Moore said this afternoon.
“It calls on us to do something.
“We really need to look beyond what we’ve been doing so far.”
Mr Moore said he did not believe a cull of sharks was needed at this stage.
“I don’t know there is any evidence we need a cull at this point in time,” he said.
“My opinion up until now has been that there is no evidence to suggest that there has been a significant increase in the numbers and so therefore the protected species status should remain.
“I think its very very well worthwhile having another good hard look at this.”
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 surfer’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.
Local resident Paul Burke said he feared such an attack would occur after hearing several reports of a large shark menacing surfers over the past four days.
"I've been fishing offshore and I've seen some monsters out there," he said.
"Local surfers have noticed a shark with a gut the size of a 44 gallon drum that they nicknamed Brutus."
"(The victim's friend) was in deep shock when I got there and was being given oxygen in the ambulance."
Witnesses at the beach reported seeing the shark swimming away from shore soon after the attack but no other sightings have been reported since.
The local shire will consider opening the beach today if there have been no further shark sightings.
Surf Life Saving WA said Water Police had confirmed the attack was fatal.
Police from Jurien Bay and Lancelin were called to the popular surf beach after the man's distressed mate phoned for help.
The RAC rescue helicopter was called to air-lift the man back to Perth but it's understood his body is yet to be recovered.
The shark attack is the fifth in WA during the past 10 months.
In April, WA Fisheries senior shark research scientist Rory McAuley said the state was the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks, after the death of 33-year-old diver Peter Kurmann off the southwest coast, the fourth death in seven months.
Mr McAuley said there had been an ``unprecedented'' number of fatal shark attacks off WA in the past two years.
Last month, 62-year-old surf life saver Martin Kane was rescued by one of his fellow paddlers when a shark attacked his surf ski at Mullaloo beach.
A world-first acoustic tagging program introduced last year has shown sharks are lingering off the metropolitan coast for months at a time.
WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore recently said the state had pre-emptively banned shark tourism. http://www.couriermail.com.au/