SURFERS at Wedge Island were not put off from surfing in the area after the weekend’s fatal shark attack despite signs advising people not to enter the water.
With conditions good on Sunday for one of Wedge’s most popular surf spots, the previous day’s tragedy in which 24 year old surfer, cabinetmaker and musician, Benjamin Linden, was killed by a white pointer, was not enough to keep surfers out of the water.
However, the sighting of a large dark shape swimming in the vicinity did see them ordered out of the water by authorities.
The fatal attack is WA’s fifth in less than 12 months however it is the first shark related death for the area, though other non-fatal attacks have been reported.
In October 2010 a young boy was attacked whilst kite surfing at Wedge Island.
While local fishermen regularly report seeing large sharks in the surrounding ocean, the history of attacks near Wedge is limited.
Prior to the attack in 2010 it was more than 30 years ago that another non-fatal attack took place about halfway between Wedge and Lancelin when a spearfisherman was attacked.
The death cements WA’s title as the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks.
Around 7 people had been in the water surfing on Saturday when Mr Linden was killed.
Some had been unaware of the danger lurking until a jet-ski rider drove over to alert them of the attack.
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore says he is totally perplexed and distressed by the recent spate of attacks but doesn’t know exactly how to deal with the problem.
He has called on the federal government to assist in establishing whether the current status of great white sharks as protected should be lifted.
“It seems… the harder we work to try and put these strategies in place to protect the public the more of these fatalities we seem to be having.”
He has admitted that if it can be shown that shark numbers have increased as anecdotal evidence seems to suggest, then lifting the ban on fishing these sharks may be the way to address the problem.
Moore stopped short of sanctioning a shark culling program should the ban be lifted.
Public opinion on the matter is divided.
He has urged anyone who sees such a large shark while out fishing or using the ocean to report it to authorities after it was revealed that there had been a number of sightings of a large shark, nicknamed ‘Brutus’, in the Wedge area during the week prior to Saturday’s attack.
This latest attack also seems to call into question the theory that great whites bite humans by mistake and once they realise the mistake leave them alone.
Reports from the jet-ski rider who tried to recover Mr Linden’s body suggest that the shark was intent on finishing off the job.
As yet no remains of the body have been recovered though Police have taken a piece of a legrope that was found yesterday in the area for identification.
The victim’s family have declined any media interviews.
Jurien police and Department of Fisheries are continuing a scaled down search of the beach and ocean for any signs of the body.