Stab Magazine | Shark kills 21 year-old bodyboarder in WA
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Shark kills 21 year-old bodyboarder in WA

Yesterday, what is presumed to have been a Great White shark bit and killed a 21 year-old bodyboarder at Boneyards, a surf spot in Dunsborough, WA. The shark severed the man across the waist at around 1pm. Onlookers raced into the water and pulled him to shore, but the man died on the sand. Today, […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yesterday, what is presumed to have been a Great White shark bit and killed a 21 year-old bodyboarder at Boneyards, a surf spot in Dunsborough, WA. The shark severed the man across the waist at around 1pm. Onlookers raced into the water and pulled him to shore, but the man died on the sand. Today, the beach (which is located 300 clicks south of Perth in Bunker Bay) is closed, while a plane scours the coastline and boats attempt to herd the shark away from the bay area. The incident follows a number of other shark attacks the area’s seen in recent years, also shown by CSIRO’s recently-released figures, which indicate a 25% spike in reported shark attacks over the past decade. Ex-pro and south-west Oz local Mitch Thorson gave us a closer-to-home perspective.

Stab: What do you know about yesterdays attack?
Mitch Thorson: I honestly didn’t know what was going on (at first). I went to South Point (further south of Boneyards) and there was hardly anyone out, it was really weird. A guy I know in the bodyboarding fraternity told me that this shark came up in the middle of a group and bit the guy in half. Then a couple of guys paddled out, grabbed the top half of him and pulled him in.

Locally, what’s the general consensus over how to handle the shark? Debate rages over wether or not you hunt it down and kill it, or you let it go ’cause we’re in their environment. It’s pretty tough. What it comes down to is wether we should be actively out there, hunting them down and killing them. I don’t know the answer. People say that we’re in their territory, but geez, every time someone gets heckled by a big salt water croc up north they go and shoot it and kill it, don’t they? What’s the difference?

As someone who lives in the area, do you think shark activity has increased in recent years?
It appears that the number of sharks has increased, if you go off the amount of people that see them and talk about them. You could argue that there’s more people in the water, hence more sightings, but fuck, every second week someone sees a big-ass Great White. There was a period toward the end of last year, after that guy got taken at South Point. In the space of a week I heard between eight and 10 reports of someone seeing a Great wWhite. One of my mates was surfing and saw this big one swim past. He shat himself and climbed up onto the rocks. Another guy was snorkelling for crayfish around the reefs of Gnarabup and a 15-footer circled him. Someone else saw one right up the bay where all the kids were swimming. This whole string of sightings. Yesterday some people were surfing Rocky Point (south of Boneyards) and a big shark swam past them. Then some guys in a canoe reckon they saw a big one swim past them. Then, sure enough, this guy gets bitten. You go back 20 years and it was pretty rare that anybody had seen or talked about a shark. And now it happens all the time. There are so many sightings it seems like they’re everywhere.

So, what do the cops think about it all? Graham Clifford, of the Dunsborough police media office, said: “It’s something that you never quite get used to, but you’ve got to remember that it’s the sharks domain, not ours. These things do happen. But you’ll find that there’ll be just as many people in the water today as there was yesterday.” – Simon Nicholas

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