Suspected shark attack victim was ‘knocked from his board and FLUNG into the air’ before he disappeared – and there’s a ‘pretty slim’ chance he’ll be found alive
- Andrew Sharpe, a father of two, is believed to have been attacked by a shark
- He was surfing at Kelp Beds, on Western Australia’s south coast, at about 11am
- Witnesses saw the shark knock Mr Sharpe off his board and fling him into the air
- Authorities said chances he survived were ‘pretty slim’ as the search resumes
A surfer is feared dead after he was knocked off his board in a suspected shark attack.
Andrew Sharpe, a father-of-two known as ‘Sharpey’, was surfing at Kelp Beds in Wylie Bay, on Western Australia’s south coast, when he was ‘flung into the air’ about 11am on Friday.
Mr Sharpe hasn’t been seen since, with his surfboard later washing up on the beach without its owner.
Mr Sharpe was out with a group of friends when his mates saw the father fall off his board, 7NEWS reported.
Andrew Sharpe, a reported father-of-two, was attacked by a shark while surfing at Kelp Beds in Wylie Bay (pictured), on Western Australia’s south coast, just before 11am on Friday morning
Six different organisations took to the popular Wylie Bay (pictured), near Esperance, on Friday to search for Mr Sharpe but authorities said chances of his survival were ‘pretty slim’
Witnesses also reported spotting a massive shark with a dorsal fin as big as a metre high.
Esperance Police Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski said the accounts prompted grave fears for Mr Sharpe’s safety.
‘The chances of survival are obviously pretty slim considering some of the accounts that have been provided to us.
‘There were a number of other surfers in the waters and some of them did paddle to try and render some assistance but unfortunately they were not in a position to do so,’ Sen Sgt Tarasinksi said.
WA Premier Mark McGowan on Friday described it as a ‘very serious’ situation.
‘Unfortunately he hasn’t been recovered at this point in time,’ Mr McGowan said.
Mr McGowan said WA’s south coast, particularly around Esperance, was a known breeding ground for great white sharks and home to large seal colonies.
He said the government had taken extra safety measures to protect swimmers and surfers, including helicopter patrols, monitoring stations and subsidised shark shields.
Chairman of the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support Group, Mitchell Capelli, said he was left shaking after hearing of the attack on Mr Sharpe.
Mr Sharpe was surfing with a group of friends at Wylie Bay (map pictured) when witnesses claim he was knocked off his board by the shark and flung into the air before disappearing
Mr Sharpe’s surfboard washed up on the shore but he has not been found (file image pictured)
‘We’re devastated — he was a local legend,’ Mr Capelli told The West Australian.
The chairman called for stronger measures to be implemented to protect the community against sharks.
17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer (pictured) was mauled to death at the same beach by a great white shark in 2017
‘Plain and simple the balance of nature is out of whack.
‘We’re dealing with something that didn’t just take one bite, it bumped him, bit him and took him down. It shouldn’t be in the ocean anymore,’ he said.
Six different organisations were involved in Mr Sharpe’s rescue operation, including Esperance Police, Surf Life Saving WA and Marine Rescue Esperance.
The search was called off on Friday evening to resume at first light on Saturday.
In 2017, 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was mauled to death at the same beach by a great white shark.
Laeticia died after her left leg was ripped off at the hip by the shark as she surfed off the coast with her father.
Her parents at the time called for the beach to be made safer, saying they wanted people to be able to use beaches with ‘minimal risk and fear’.