Great White Shark Killed In Australia Following Attack On Surfer

A large great white shark died on a drum line off Australia’s Falcon Bay beach in Mandurah earlier this week, just a day after an attack in the region cost one surfer his right leg.

The attack, which has been attributed to a great white shark, took place last Tuesday, according to Perth Now. Surfer Ben Gerring, 29, lost his leg above the knee during the incident, and he remains in critical condition at Royal Perth Hospital. Another surfer who was in the water at the time of the attack, Paul Collier, recalled that he witnessed a large shark surging up from below Gerring, throwing him into the air.

“When (I saw) it was a full up in the air type thing I knew it was a pretty heavy shark attack… His leg was really badly ripped off… I’m not trying to dramatize it but it was fricken really bad.”

Fellow surfers were able to pull Gerring from the ocean and administer first aid until paramedics arrived on the beach. Though an RAC rescue chopper was dispatched to the scene, Gerring was eventually transported by ambulance to Peel Health Campus.

The Department of Fisheries released a statement following the attack, noting that Gerring’s injuries indicated that he was likely attacked by a great white shark more than three meters in length. At first light on Wednesday morning, officials with the department deployed capture gear off Surf Break Lookout in hopes of catching the shark responsible for Gerring’s injuries.

Those efforts paid off by Wednesday afternoon, when a large great white shark approached the drum line and became ensnared, as the ABC reports. A total of four baited hooks had been deployed, and shortly after 3 p.m., the white shark, which measured between three and five meters long, found itself caught on the line. Footage filmed at the scene revealed the shark thrashing about in the water before the animal eventually died on the drum line. Following its death, a series of measurements and samples were taken from the shark, while its remains were towed out to sea and disposed of.

In a statement, the Department of Fisheries noted that there is no way to be certain if the animal caught was the same one responsible for the attack on Gerring. For reasons such as this, Western Australia’s serious threat policy, which allows protected sharks to be killed under certain circumstances, has proven to be highly controversial, both locally and on the international stage.

The argument over the serious threat policy was on full display following Gerring’s attack, as Perth Now notes. While calls for a shark cull have arisen from Perth’s commercial fishing sector, those on the other side of the debate have questioned whether such an action would effectively safeguard beachgoers. Marine scientist Jess Morris pointed out that the gap of time between the attack and the deployment of drum lines made it impossible to deduce whether the shark killed was the one targeted by officials.

“The fact that the drum lines were deployed over 18 hours after the incident shows that it is very unlikely that the shark they captured was the shark responsible, white sharks can travel hundreds of kilometers in a day.”

The Department of Fisheries also noted that recent sightings of white sharks in the area were listed on Western Australia’s Shark Smart website and Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter account. Just hours before Gerring’s attack, a large great white shark measuring over three meters had been reported roughly four kilometers south of Falcon Beach.

[Image via Elias Levy – Own Work | Flickr | Cropped and Resized | CC BY 2.0]