- Police say the victim is believed to be a 17-year-old boy who was diving and spear fishing at the time of the attack
- He died at Cheynes Beach, a popular camping spot off the south coast of Western Australia
- His injuries thought to be consistent with a shark attack
- Sydney Institute of Marine Science professor said ‘all spear fishers are a little more exposed to risk [of attack] even though the risk is still low’
Daniel Piotrowski for Daily Mail Australia
00:27 EST, 29 December 2014
03:34 EST, 29 December 2014
A young man, who died as a result of a suspected shark attack on the West Australian coast, is believed to be a 17-year-old boy, police have said.
The teenager, who police say may have been spear fishing and diving at the time, was attacked at about 12:20pm local time at Cheynes Beach, around 70km east of Albany, in the state’s far south on Monday.
A police spokesman said his injury appeared to be consistent with a shark bite and that while the victim’s body is yet to be formally identified, his family has been contacted.
If confirmed, the 17-year-old would be the second teen killed while spear fishing this month, following the death of Daniel Smith, 18, at Port Douglas in far north Queensland.
Vicious: A 17-year-old boy is believd to be the fatal victim of a suspected shark attack off Cheynes Beach, at the southern end of Western Australia
Iain Suthers, a professor in Marine Science from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science told Daily Mail Australia that spear fishers carried a higher risk of being attacked by a shark.
‘All spear fishers are a little more exposed to risk even though the risk is still entirely low,’ Mr Suthers said.
‘Sharks do not just forage for food purely by smell or by sound; they also have these little sensory organs distributed along their lateral lines and under their snout – ampullae of Lorenzini.
‘These sense electrical stimuli in the water and if the fish it still shaking and trembling – in close range of the shark – it adds to the attraction that sharks have.
‘It’s the old expression of blood in the water. The safest thing is to spear the fish and immediately go back to your boat and put it in a bucket so you don’t have the smell of blood and trembling fish around you.
According to a police statement, the 17-year-old boy and another person nearby, were approached by the shark which then attacked the teen.
The beach has been closed as police investigate the incident
‘The second person is not believed to have received any serious injuries,’ the statement said.
Both individuals are thought to have been fishing at the popular Three Stripes spot when the attack occured, the West Australian reports.
The beach is home to a caravan park and surrounded by bushland.
It is at maximum capacity, full of campers and families during the busy Christmas season.
St Johns Ambulances attended the scene. The boy’s identity is not yet known.
A monster 4.1m great white was snared in fishing nets off Cheynes Beach in April.
Shark expert Dr Jonathan Werry told Daily Mail Australia white sharks ‘certainly’ move in the Albany region.
Remote: Cheynes Beach is home to a caravan park, is surrounded by bushland and is often the subject of day trips for families at this time of year
Map: The attack occurred around 70km south of Albany, in WA’s south
Larger species, such as whaler sharks, also live in the area, Dr Werry said.
Australia has witnessed a number of shark attacks this year, some fatal.
In September, British expat Paul Wilcox, 50, was killed in a shark attack in Byron Bay, at the eastern-most point of New South Wales.
Sean Pollard, 23, from Bunbury, WA, lost an arm and both hands when he came under attack by a great white in October.
Drum lines: A tiger shark is pictured caught in the Margaret River region in February
170 sharks were killed over the course of the shark policy
The Barnett Government’s attempts to kill the shark were hugely controversial
A WA Department of Fisheries spokeswoman said she could not say whether action would be taken against any shark at this stage.
Premier Colin Barnett’s government trialled using baited drum lines to cull sharks earlier this year.
The policy was hugely controversial and resulted in 170 sharks being killed. The Environmental Protection Agency sunk the policy in a ruling earlier this year.
The government is still able to use drum lines if they are threat to beachgoers, Mr Barnett was quoted saying in September.
SHARK ATTACKS OVER THE PAST 100 YEARS
The earliest recorded Australian shark attack was on an indigenous female (fatal) on the NSW north coast in 1791.
* NSW – 203 attacks, 48 fatal, last fatality Byron Bay 2014
* QLD – 208 attacks, 67 fatal, last fatality Palm Island 2011
* WA – 88 attacks*, 19 fatal, last fatality Dawesville Cut 2014
* SA – 44 attacks, 17 fatal, last fatality Coffin Bay 2011
* VIC – 33 attacks, 4 fatal, last fatality Mornington Peninsula 1987
* TAS – 11 attacks, 2 fatal, last fatality Tenth Island 1993
* NT – 11 attacks, 2 fatal, last fatality Bathurst Island 1938
TOTAL – 599 cases, 159 fatal*
*This list does not include the attack on December 29 near Cheynes Beach in Western Australia
Source: AAP, Taronga Conservation Society website