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Bodyboarder feared he would die when shark attacked

A 20-year-old bodyboarder attacked by a shark near Mandurah on Sunday admitted fearing he was going to die when it bit into him.

Noah Symmans, who escaped with wounds to his left foot and ankle, said he knew instantly it was a shark that had grabbed his foot.

“I guess my instant thoughts were ‘this is me, I’m gone’,” he said today, after surgery on his wounds.

“I went into attack mode, with my other foot I stomped it, on the head I think, and it released me. Then I just wanted to get to the rocks as soon as I could.”

Mr Symmans said he felt very lucky that the attack had not been worse and that he had only suffered “four fairly deep” gashes and “a couple of little minor ones”.

Speaking after being released from Royal Perth Hospital today, Mr Symmans said he would return to the water when he had recovered because bodyboarding made him happy.

It was the third shark attack in four years at Mandurah’s Pyramids Beach and the incident has prompted local leaders to call for more to be done to protect beachgoers.

Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams and Liberal member for Dawesville Zak Kirkup have previously asked the State Government to extend the SMART drum-line trial to sites along the Mandurah coastline but were knocked back by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly.

Mr Kirkup urged Mr Kelly to reconsider, saying the community fear of an attack was high.

“Long-term residents have told me they are worried about going swimming now,” he said.

Mr Kirkup said he was thankful for the money the Government was putting into the Dawesville electorate for shark mitigation but that more needed to be done because the area was becoming a focus of such incidents.

He said he would hold a community meeting outside Port Bouvard Surf Life Saving Club on Saturday to discuss measures to improve safety.

Mr Williams said the City of Mandurah was happy for any new shark mitigation strategies to be tested at local beaches.

He said he was grateful the Government had committed to paying 50 per cent of the cost of a swimming enclosure planned for Falcon beach.

Mr Williams said work was still being done to ensure the right product was installed because there had been problems with barriers at other beaches.

“I’m really keen to make sure we’re not just doing something here so we’re seen to be doing something, that we’re actually putting up viable solutions that are going to mitigate shark attacks,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the Government was probably doing more than any other government to protect its community.

The raft of measures included subsidising personal shark deterrents and he recommended people consider buying one because they were shown to be effective.

Mr Kelly and Police Minister Michelle Roberts expressed their disappointment at bodyboarders and kite surfers who had returned to the water in the hours after the attack despite beaches in the area being closed.

“It’s an act of gross stupidity to ignore a ‘closed beach’ sign,” Mrs Roberts said. “Who in their right mind would then enter the water? It’s a crazy thing to do.”

She said she would talk to her colleagues about whether people should be fined for ignoring beach closure signs.

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