- Kaitlyn Offer
- November 26, 2013 6:51AM
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GRACETOWN surf beaches remain closed today after a 5m great white shark was seen close to shore yesterday afternoon..
A giant shark was spotted off the coast of Gracetown in Western Australia’s South West yesterday, near where surfer Chris Boyd was fatally mauled on Saturday, prompting rangers to erect beach closure signs from North Point to South Point.
The Department of Fisheries has a vessel on the way to Gracetown and Surf Life Saving helicopter patrols headed to the beach after it was spotted.
The beaches will remain closed for 24 hours – until at least 2pm today – as a precautionary measure.
Mr Boyd, 35, was surfing at the popular surf break Umbies off Gracetown when a suspected great white shark bounced off another surfer’s board and attacked him on Saturday morning.
The search for the shark that killed surfer Chris Boyd has resumed off Gracetown as some surfers are now calling for a cull of the large predators.
An imminent threat order issued after the shark attack was rescinded on Monday night after the Department failed to catch a shark potentially responsible for the attack.
The Department of Fisheries advised that rangers installing beach closure signs from North Point to South Point in Gracetown following reports of a five-metre shark in the area.
WA Fisheries advised that one of its vessels is on the way to Gracetown and Surf Life Saving helicopter patrols area already underway.
Department of Fisheries Shark Response Unit spokesman Tony Cappelluti said there will continue to be a strong land, sea and air presence.
“We have extra support with additional patrols by sea and air – extra helicopter patrols for the rest of the week with a fisheries officer in the chopper helping to identify shark species and size,” he said.
“The helicopter is on call from 7am and 5pm. Fisheries boats the Geographe and Hamlin will also be patrolling the coastline.
There will also be additional coordination by Department of Fisheries’ shark response officers who are working closely with local government and event organisers on the ground in the south west leading into events like the Kelloggs Ironman Smiths Beach, the Meelup Leavers event on Wednesday and the Busselton Ironman.”
Earlier today, beaches in Gracetown were re-opened, with a patrol vessel from Perth and aerial surveillance continued while school leavers are in the area after Saturday’s fatal shark attack
The beaches opened this morning after the imminent threat order to find the shark that killed surfer Chris Boyd was cancelled last night.
The search for the suspected great white was called off about 5pm yesterday.
Police will be in control of a school leavers party at Meelup beach tomorrow night but the Department of Fisheries will work with them to monitor the water.
Mr Cappelluti said while people needed to be cautious, there was no suggestion that the event should be cancelled.
Mr Boyd was surfing at the popular surf break Umbies off Gracetown when a shark, believed to be a great white, bounced off another surfer’s board and attacked him on Saturday morning.
Beaches were closed and authorities searched unsuccessfully for the shark, which was deemed an imminent risk, but the search was called off on Monday night and the beaches were re-opened.
Surfer’s death ‘quick and painless’, doctor reveals
Meanwhile, a doctor who tried in vain to save Mr Boyd says there was little he could do but his death would have been painless and quick.
The popular father-of-two was surfing at Umbies surf break off Gracetown, in WA’s South West, when the shark bounced off another surfer’s board and attacked him on Saturday morning.
Anaesthetist Dennis Millard, who was surfing near Mr Boyd, says his injuries were clearly fatal.
“I think it would have been very painless and quick,” he said.
The doctor has since bonded with the Boyd family who’ve described him as a “wonderful man”.
“They’re a very tight-knit family and they’re obviously very distressed by what happened,” he said.
“He was an absolute water man, who was a warrior of the ocean.”
Dr Millard also read a statement from Shae Nairn, who was surfing with Mr Boyd when he was attacked.
Mr Nairn said only he knew what happened in the water and he had done his best to convey the details to Mr Boyd’s partner Krystle and the rest of the family.
The Boyd family have asked for privacy while they mourn, Dr Millard said.
The doctor, who is a keen surfer, said he was concerned about the number of shark attacks “increasing out of proportion”.
An imminent threat order issued immediately after the shark attack was rescinded on Monday night after the Fisheries Department failed to catch any shark that might have been responsible for the attack.
Shark Response Unit spokesman Tony Cappelluti said a great white shark was likely to have been responsible.
“We had no choice but to issue this order, especially as many school leavers are in the region at the moment,” he said.
“The scientific advice is that some white sharks remain in the vicinity of an attack site for a period while others move on.
“There have been no further sightings of a white shark in the area and it is likely that the shark responsible for the attack is no longer in this general locality.”
Some surfers are calling for sharks larger than three metres or those that swim close to shore be culled.
The state government has indicated it will consider stronger protective options for ocean users but culling sharks is unlikely.
Mr Boyd’s death is WA’s only fatal shark attack this year.
It comes weeks after abalone diver Greg Pickering was bitten on the face and body by a five-metre great white while diving off the coast of Esperance.
There have been three fatal shark attacks at Gracetown in the past 10 years.
Surfer Bradley Smith was taken by a great white in 2004 and Nicholas Edwards was killed by a shark at nearby South Point in 2010.
The Department of Fisheries said it decided to rescind the order after vessels spent most of the weekend and Monday searching for sharks considered to be a threat.
Capture gear was deployed on two Department of Fisheries’ vessels and aerial surveillance undertaken over three days.
Mr Cappelluti said the capture gear was identical to that used in the department’s shark tagging research program.
The Department said people should continue to exercise caution when entering the water at South West beaches and preferably use patrolled beaches.”
Any shark sightings should be reported to Water Police on 9442 8600.
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