Great white shark killed Australian diver
It was the fourth fatal shark attack on Australia's west coast since September 2011.
Sun, Apr 01 2012 at 1:05 AM
Photo: Theo Ferreira/AFP
SYDNEY — A great white shark is likely to have been responsible for the death of an Australian diver, fisheries officials said this weekend as a cull was ruled out despite four fatal incidents in seven months.
Peter Kurmann, a father of two, was diving for crayfish 1.6 kilometers (about 1 mile) from Stratham Beach near Busselton, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Perth, when he was attacked by a shark on March 31.
His mauled body was recovered from the water by his brother Gian, who was assisted by the crew of a nearby boat, and taken to shore.
It was the fourth fatal shark attack on Australia's west coast since September last year.
Tony Cappelluti from the Shark Response Unit at the Western Australia Fisheries Department said the animal was likely to have been a great white.
"A Department of Fisheries scientist has advised police that, based on his experience, evidence he has examined indicates that a white shark was by all signs responsible for the attack," he said in a statement.
"It wasn't possible for the scientist to confirm the estimated size of the shark, but information given to police suggests it was around four-meters (13-feet) in length."
Cappelluti said three lines were put in the water to try to catch any sharks that remained in the area after an aerial patrol spotted one on the afternoon of March 31, but they had not had any luck.
The latest death has seen renewed calls for a shark culling programme, particularly of predators that come close to shore around popular swimming beaches, with fears that tourism was being damaged.
But Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett ruled it out, saying it was impossible to protect all people at all times.
"While it's still a rare occurrence, the ocean is the domain of the shark and we go there with a risk always," he said.
"If there is any thought that this (shark) could be a future risk to people, then I'd support the shark being destroyed. That's not to blame the shark at all — it's just one of those acts of nature that can happen."
Sharks are a common feature of Australian waters but fatal attacks are rare.
Experts say the average number of attacks in Australia — about 15 a year, with at least one being fatal — have increased in line with population growth and the popularity of water sports.
The latest death comes barely two weeks after a surfer was bitten by a shark on Australia's eastern Gold Coast.
The animal, believed to be a bull shark, bit the 20-year-old twice, slicing his flesh down to the bone and severely damaging his Achilles tendon.
Copyright 2012 AFP Asian Edition