The RAC rescue helicopter prior to the airlift. Photo by Sam Robbo
Shark Attack In Western Australia, Margaret River Pro Put On Hold
A surfer was attacked at approximately 8am this morning at Cobblestones near Gracetown. The Margies Pro was initially put on hold and competition resumed at 10:40am after the WSL implemented additional protocols.
This morning at approximately 8am, while the women's competition kicked off at Main Break, a surfer was attacked by a shark at Cobblestones, south of Gracetown.
The man, who is in his 30's, is now in a stable condition after being airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital and is due to head in for surgery today.
He was allegedly bitten three times in the attack.
According to the paramedics on site, the first aid applied by the people on the beach shortly after the initial attack was crucial, in particular, using a leash to tourniquet the man's leg in order to stop the bleeding.
Surf Life Saving WA noted a number of shark sightings in the region over the past few days, including a number of shark sightings this morning.
Peter Jovic, a WA surf photographer and friend of Stab, described the incident afterwards:
"If anyone is familiar with the Mick Fanning moment at Jeffreys Bay it was quite similar to that, where a shark pretty much popped up and knocked the surfer off his board. There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on."
"The surfer who was being attacked ended up miraculously body-surfing into a little wave and making it into shore before everyone came to his aid."
"I'm a bit shaken up like many others there. It was fucking surreal."
According to another witness, who spoke to the ABC, surfers spotted the shark just before the attack and started leaving the water after being spooked.
Brett Newland, another surfer in the water at the time, told the ABC he believes the shark was a Great White based on the large size of the shark and the way it was behaving. "We could see its fin, and then when it attacked the man we could see its tail splashing and saw it launch up out of the water at him."
The Margaret River Pro was placed on hold after the attack, but resumed a few hours after, continuing with Round 2 of the women's. The WSL have placed additional ski and drone presence around the competition as a result of the attack, which will presumably continue for the remainder of the contest.
Furthermore, other beaches in the Gracetown area have now been closed, such as North Point, Lefthanders and Big Rock. The Department of Fisheries also reported a washed up whale carcass near Lefthanders, which was likely to draw any sharks nearby closer to the shore.
Everyone at Stab is wishing for the best possible outcome for the surfer involved.
"After discussing with local authorities, the Water Safety Team and surfers, the WSL Commissioner's Office has decided to resume competition for the Margaret River Pro at Main Break at 10:40am, following a one-hour hold prompted by reports of a shark incident at Gracetown - approximately 15 kms away from the event site. Surfer and Staff safety are top priorities for the WSL and when competition resumes, further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence, will be added to the event's mitigation protocols. We look forward to a great completion of the event."
Cobblestones is a well renowned spot in the WA region. Just last night Griffin Colapinto, Pat Gudang (pictured above from last night), Zeke Lau and Kalani David surfed there till dark.