Shark attack closes Margaret River pro surfing event

Sergio Conner
April 16, 2018

A man in his 30s has been bitten by a shark near Gracetown in Western Australia's South West, with organisers temporarily suspending the nearby Margaret River Pro worldwide surfing competition.

A member of the public reported an unknown species of shark off Cobblestones just moments after the attack, and the Surf Life Saving Westpac helicopter reported a four-metre shark just after 10am near the Lefthanders surf spot.

"We have been alerted of a shark incident that occurred near Gracetown", the WSL said in a tweet.

"There was a lot more thrashing around after that, it was pretty hard to see what was going on".

The shark attack victim was flown to hospital after being given first aid by friends who stemmed the blood flow using a leg rope.

A Saint John Ambulance spokesman said the man was conscious and breathing, and was now being flown to Royal Perth Hospital.

"The surfer who was being attacked ended up miraculously body surfing into a little wave and getting pushed in by a local at the same time, who was out there with him, and making it to shore before everyone came to his aid", Jovic added.

The Surf Life Saving WA Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter will also conduct aerial patrols.

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The attack forced an worldwide surfing competition nearby, the World Surf League's (WSL) Margaret River Pro 2018, to be put on hold.

Several beaches in the Gracetown area were closed in the wake of the attack, including Lefthanders, where the Department of Fisheries reported the presence of a whale carcass.

Lifeguards said a 4-meter (13-foot) shark was spotted off a nearby beach two hours after the attack.

Event organisers put the competition on hold but have not said whether the victim was taking part in the competition.

Mr Jovic said everyone was "walking around like stunned mullets" after the attack.

"Sharks are still a threat to surfers and people in the ocean here", he told reporters.

"The safety of our surfers & staff is a top priority".

"The current policies are simply not adequate".

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