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WA surfer missing at known shark spot

A surfer has gone missing off Western Australia’s south coast after a suspected shark attack in the same area as a deadly 2017 mauling.

A surfboard was recovered from waters off Esperance on Friday morning.

“At this time the surfer has not been located,” WA Police said in a statement.

Marine Rescue personnel are searching for the man and paramedics are on standby.

Premier Mark McGowan said the man was in the water with some other surfers at Kelp Beds Beach, the area where 17-year-old surfer Laeticia Brouwer was fatally mauled three years ago.

Another surfer tried to pull him from the water but was unable to do so.

“Unfortunately he hasn’t been recovered at this point in time,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Friday.

The premier described it as a “very serious” situation as rescue crews search for the man.

“It’s a very, very difficult and potentially tragic situation happening in Esperance,” he said.

Mr McGowan said WA’s south coast, particularly around Esperance, was a known breeding ground for great white sharks and home to large seal colonies.

He said the government had taken extra safety measures to protect swimmers and surfers including helicopter patrols, monitoring stations and subsided shark shields.

“I’ve done a lot but clearly there’s always a risk when you go in the water,” Mr McGowan said.

Nearby Wylie Bay has been closed to the public.

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