A beachgoer who watched in horror as a 57-year-old father was “dragged under” the waves by a shark at Port Beach has recalled the harrowing incident.
“I saw the man struggling in the water, and then there was a commotion with a tinny coming over (to help) and that was the last we saw of him,” he told The Sunday Times.
The victim, who was a regular swimmer at the Fremantle beach, was feared dead late on Saturday, after authorities spent all day searching for him following the attack at about 10am.
Witnesses believe it was a 4.5m monster that took the man. The incident appeared likely to be the first fatal shark attack in the Perth metro area for five years — and the first deadly mauling of the year.
The man’s distressed wife and children were on the beach at the time.
The witness, who asked not to be named, said he also got a look at the shark.
“It was big, and it looked like a white (pointer),” the Fremantle local said.
“After the attack we saw it swing out the water with its fin. He was a big one.
“And then I saw these young guns in a tinny racing up the beach raising the alarm.”
Leon Tanin and his friend Scott were swimming when they spotted what they described as a 4.5m-long shark.
They said one of the two small boats was trying to circle the man in the water.
“(They were) sort of trying to keep the shark away (from him),” one of the men said.
“(Afterwards) they seemed pretty shaken up by the whole thing.”
Just minutes before the alarm was raised, the surf was populated with surfers and bodyboarders, while families were settling in for a sunny start to the weekend at the popular beach.
The dad was swimming within 50m of the shore just north of Sandtrax (surfing spot) when the shark hit him.
Kaiden Boult, 16, said he and his friends had been surfing near the rocks when a boy in a dinghy “came flying at us and screamed at us to get out of the water because there’s been a shark attack”.
“We scurried out on to the rocks (and went) to get a look from a high vantage point. As soon as we did we saw a massive shark out there,” he said.
“Next thing you know there’s cops and paramedics coming out of everywhere, and they cordoned it off and said it was a crime scene.”
Beaches from North Mole to North Cottesloe were closed, just as they were 21 years ago to the day.
On that day Ken Crew was attacked in the shallows at Cottesloe as he swam with friends.
Several boats, including water police craft and vessels from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, scoured the coastline, supported from the air by multiple helicopters.
The vessels were joined by volunteer marine rescue crews from Whitfords and Joondalup, the Department of Fisheries and Surf Life Saving WA jet skis.
The marine operation was scaled back last night, while beach patrols would continue until first light at which point search crews would return to the water.
Ivana Busic said she was surfing when she heard an alarm and sirens, with lifeguards telling everyone to get out of the water.
“The alarm went off and we heard there was a shark in the water,” she said.
“Everyone ran out of the water. I am pretty shocked.”
Simone Lazaroo saw a “very large” dorsal fin.
“I spoke to the guy who made the triple zero call,” she said.
“He had made a pre-emptive call for an ambulance because he saw a shark go really close to a guy who was swimming.
“That guy got out of the water. But then we heard about someone (else) going missing.” “Beaches are expected to remain closed for at least 24 hours,” a Department of Fisheries spokesperson said.
“On behalf of the State Government, I’d like to extend our heartfelt thoughts to the family of this man at this very difficult time,” Fisheries Minister Don Punch said.
“This is a terribly sad and distressing situation.”
Surf Life Saving WA’s helicopters’ shark-spotting patrols resumed on September 4. On the same day, the government announced its shark mitigation measures will be expanded further to increase white shark tagging, fund beach enclosures, and meet demand for subsidised shark deterrent devices.
The annual humpback whale migration is understood to draw sharks to WA shores at this time of year.
The last person to be killed by a shark in the Perth metropolitan area was 60-year-old Doreen Collyer.
The ECU nursing lecturer died after she was attacked by a great white while scuba diving off Mindarie in 2016.
Her death came just days after surfer Ben Gerring was fatally mauled by a shark off Mandurah’s Falcon Beach.