A 17-year-old out spear-fishing at Cheynes Beach in Western Australia was killed this weekend, the victim of a Great White shark authorities are saying. The shark attacked two men, according to reports, the teen suffering a deadly bite to his leg that proved fatal. The second man escaped uninjured, having shot at the Great White with a spear gun.
The Guardian reported Dec. 29 that Jay Muscat and a friend were fishing off Cheynes Beach, which is roughly 65 miles east Albany, when the attack occurred. Muscat was bitten on the leg and would subsequently die of blood loss. His friend, Matt Pullella, told authorities that the Great White shark, which he estimated to be between 4 and 5 meters in length, also came for him. He fired his spear-gun into the mouth of the massive beast, which apparently diverted the shark’s attack.
The Australia Department of Fisheries deployed drumlines in the water around Cheynes Beach on Tuesday morning after efforts to catch the Great White on Monday failed. The department’s acting director-general, Dr Rick Fletcher, said it was quite possible Pullella might have fatally injured the shark with his spear gun. “If they [fisheries staff] catch a shark that’s of similar species and similar length to that one likely to be in the attack,” he said, “then it will be killed.”
It has become standard procedure, called the “imminent threat” policy, to track and kill large sharks after attacks in Australia in an effort to curb the number of fatal shark attacks. The policy took effect in 2012 and was most recently invoked in October, when the Department of Fisheries authorised the destruction of two juvenile Great White sharks near Esperance after 23-year-old surfer Sean Pollard was attacked and lost his left arm and right hand. The attacking shark in that particular incident was identified as a Great White by the bite marks on Pollard’s surfboard.
According to Australia’s 9News, the attack occurred around noon Monday. It was Western Australia’s eighth fatality in the past five years, the first for 2014.
According to the International Shark Attack Files’ current info page, Australia has recorded 18 attacks this year. Of those, 4 have resulted in fatalities.
The attack that killed Jay Muscat occurred only hours after a surfer in Central California was attacked and pulled underwater by what appeared to be a 10-foot juvenile Great White shark. With the help of his fellow surfers, Kevin Swanson, 50, was helped to shore, where he fashioned a makeshift tourniquet out of his surfboard leash cord before being taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. A bite to his right hip, Swanson’s injury, fortunately, was non-life-threatening.