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Shark bites surfer in half off Western Australia

A witness to the attack off Perth said the shark — estimated to be 16 feet long — kept circling the body.

shark attack australia 7 14 2012Enlarge
Australian surfer Glen Folkard displays his massive scar and damaged surf board at his home in Newcastle on February 23, 2012 after he was attacked by a shark. (TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

A witness to a fatal shark attack off the coast of Perth in Western Australia said the animal — estimated to be as much as 16 feet long — bit its victim in half.

The fatal attack on a male surfer occurred south of Wedge Island, a family holiday destination about 100 miles north of Perth, at 9 a.m. local time, Australia's ABC reported.

The police said they were yet to locate the surfer's remains and could not identify the victim until his family was informed, according to Agence France-Presse.

However, the ABC cited a man jet-skiing near the surfer as saying he saw "half a torso" remaining after the attack.

"There was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive [great] white shark circling the body," he told ABC television, estimating the fish to be up to 16 feet long.

"I reached to grab the body and the shark came at me on the jet-ski and tried to knock me off. I did another loop and when I came back to the body the shark took it."

It was the fifth fatal shark attack off the WA coast in the past 12 months — a toll that included American, George Wainwright, 32, attacked by a great white while diving off Rottnest Island on Oct. 22.

The Australian Associated Press quoted WA Fisheries scientist Rory McAuley as saying that the Australian state was now the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks.

However, sharks attacks were still rare in Australian waters, with only 46 fatalities in the past half-century, according to the Australian Shark Attack File.

The fatal attacks had prompted calls for a cull of sharks, which authorities had rejected after protests by environmental groups and experts who said the increase in attacks was due to population growth and the popularity of water sports.

All beaches in the area were closed after the attack, AFP reported. Fisheries had embarked on a hunt and would kill the shark if they found it, AFP added.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/120714/jaws-shark-attack-western-australia-perth-great-white-australian-deadliest-countries