Shark suspected of WA attack to be shot
The shark believed responsible for the second fatal attack in Western Australia in a week will likely be shot if caught, as authorities fear the threat to public safety remains.
University lecturer Doreen Ann Collyer, 60, was diving about 1km off Mindarie when she was mauled on Sunday, five days after surfer Ben Gerring was attacked at Falcon, south of Perth.
It’s the first time two fatal shark attacks have occurred in WA within such a short period of time.
“We’ve had them maybe months apart but probably never several days apart,” Fisheries department metropolitan regional manager Tony Cappelluti told reporters on Monday.
Mr Cappelluti said any shark that was caught and fit the description of Ms Collyer’s attacker would be shot.
“If we catch a shark of the description and the type of shark that we believe may have been responsible – and like the Falcon incident, we believe it is a white shark of at least three metres in length … then it is highly likely we will take the decision to destroy it in the interest of public safety,” he told reporters.
Fishermen who arguably saved the life of Ms Collyer’s 43-year-old diving companion by positioning their boat between him and the shark estimated the animal was 5.3m long, which was believable, Mr Cappelluti said.
“We know these sharks can get up to six metres,” he said.
Edith Cowan University said Ms Collyer, a nursing and midwifery lecturer was a much-loved and respected colleague, mentor and teacher.
Her husband David paid tribute in a statement.
“Doreen was a beautiful person and everyone loved her. She was a devoted grandmother, mother and loving wife,” Mr Collyer said in a statement.
Fisheries department officers have closed Mindarie beaches and reset baited drum lines, which were first deployed on Sunday afternoon and have so far not caught a shark.
Mr Cappelluti said the lines would be pulled out at sunset, when officers would reassess whether to reset them for a third consecutive day.
The day after Mr Gerring, 29, was attacked, a large shark was caught then towed further out to sea where it drowned.
Mr Cappelluti said large schools of salmon had been abundant in Falcon waters for some time, but there were no obvious, significant shark attractants with the latest fatality.
WA Premier Colin Barnett ruled out a return to permanent drum lines, which was trialled in 2014 but not extended after the Environmental Protection Authority recommended against it.
He admitted the program – which resulted in the death of 172 sharks but not a single great white – had been a failure and he was concerned the attacks had dented WA’s tourism potential.
But the state government reserved the right to catch and kill sharks that were deemed an imminent threat to the public, he said.
He urged beachgoers to use patrolled beaches and the Shark Smart website, but people had to take some responsibility if they went surfing or diving at isolated locations .