A search and destroy mission off the coast of Australia is continuing after a surfer died when he was bitten in half by a Great White shark.
The operation was started at the weekend following the death of 24-year-old Ben Linden on Saturday.
Yesterday, Western Australia called on the federal government to lift a ban on hunting Great Whites after the fifth death in its waters within a year.
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said the spate of attacks was ’cause for great alarm’ following Mr Ben Linden’s death.
Mr Moore said it was time to reassess population numbers and plans to write to the federal government about the great white’s protected status.
Mr Linden was killed by the 15-foot-long great white near remote Wedge Island, 100 miles north of Perth.
Divers Dave Richards and Nathan Podmore were also attacked by a shark when they went spearfishing off the western coast of Australia at the weekend.
The episodes have cemented the west coast’s reputation as the world’s deadliest shark attack zone, according to The Independent.
Mr Linden’s girlfriend of eight years, Alana Noakes, left a moving tribute on the cabinet maker’s Facebook page, recalling how he was ‘the most amazing man’ who ‘lit up the lives of all who knew him.’
Jet skiier Matt Holmes, 23, said he was towing a surfing friend along when he saw the attack.
‘I just took my mate straight to the shore and went straight out and there was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive white shark circling the body.
‘By the time I got out there half of him had been taken.
‘I tried to lean off the side and pull him on the back, but as I did that the shark came back and nudged the jet ski to try to knock me off.
‘When I came back the second time, he took the rest of him.
‘I just thought about his family and if he had kids. I just wanted to get him to shore. I gave it everything I had.’
In Australia as a whole, an average of one person a year is killed by sharks. But Martin Garwood, a senior aquarist at the Sydney Aquarium, said the spike in attacks is probably the result of human population growth and the increasing popularity of water sports in isolated locations, rather than a rise in shark numbers.
The government’s response to the latest attack was condemned by Janita Enevoldsen of the Wilderness Society, who said: ‘We need to really understand them [the sharks], and not resort to the Neanderthal reaction of a hunt and kill.’
Mr Moore agreed that more research was needed to plot the sharks’ migration and feeding habits. An acoustic tagging programme introduced by the WA government last year – the first of its kind in the world – has revealed that they sometimes linger for months off the west coast.
He said: ‘We have allocated some A$14m [£9.2m] … to get a better understanding of the great white sharks and the reasons why fatalities are occurring. I wonder if research might tell us that there are now much greater numbers of great whites than ever before.’
Mr Linden’s remains have not been found, despite police and volunteers scouring local beaches.