Beaches at Wedge Island in Western Australia were closed over the weekend as a result of a surfer being bitten in half by a great white shark. Wedge Island is a very popular family tourist destination in Western Australia. The victim, 24-year-old Benjamin Charles Linden, was out surfing with one of his friends on Saturday morning when he was attacked by the shark and then killed.
“There was blood everywhere and a massive, massive white shark circling the body,” Matt Holmes said. Holmes was a witness to the incident who was jet skiing not far from where the attack happened. “I reached to grab the body and the shark came at me on the jet ski and tried to throw me off.” Holmes went on to say that the body of Linden was cut in half.
The shark suspected in the attack has been nicknamed Brutus by locals to the area. Brutus has been described as being between 16 and 24-feet long by witnesses. Baited traps have been set up close to the attack site by the Western Australia Department of Fisheries in hopes of catching the shark. A search for the shark was also launched via boat and helicopter but it has yet to be spotted. This attack was the fifth deadly shark attack reported off of the coast of Western Australia in the past 10 months.
Tony Cappelluti, a spokesman for the Shark Response Unit, said that patrol vessels were at the scene of the incident.
“When last seen the shark was heading offshore, but we have placed baited lines in the water near the attack site, in an attempt to catch the shark should it return to the location or pose a threat in the area,” Cappelluti said in a statement.
“Once you are a surfer — and only a surfer knows the feeling — we cannot stop surfing. We are addicted,” surfing competition organizer Peter Dunn said. Dunn also said that the attack was a ‘tragic loss.’
There were 12 deaths from unprovoked shark attacks across the globe in 2011, according to the International Shark Attack File. Despite shark attacks making the news frequently, humans tend to be more of a threat to sharks than sharks are to humans. George Burgess, the director of the International Shark Attack File, said that anywhere from 30 to 70 million sharks are killed by fisheries each year. The advocacy group known as Oceana said that sharks face the dangers of finning, fishing pressure and bycatch.