Crews combing waters for swimmer missing after shark attack off of Western Australia coast

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Nov. 6 (UPI) — Authorities in Australia are searching for a 57-year-old father following a shark that occurred off the country’s west coast on Saturday.

Acting Inspector Troy Douglas said the attack occurred around 10 a.m. at Port Beach near a tourist hub in the Perth area of Western Australia, reports ABC News. He credited a group of young people who alerted emergency services after seeing the attack from a boat.

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“I think it’s a fantastic effort – it was probably something you don’t want to see,” he said.

Police are unsure if one or two sharks were involved in the attack after it was reported that the man was attacked by a great white and a tiger shark, reports ABC News. The search for the man, which involves helicopters and boats from multiple agencies, will continue until dark and resume Saturday. Meanwhile, authorities closed the beach area and others nearby for at least 24 hours.

After the attack occurred, a teenager in a dinghy came “flying up in the beach” warning people to get out of the water, reports The West Australian, citing witnesses.

“He was obviously very distraught, letting everyone know, ‘get out, there’s been a shark,” one witness told the paper, adding, “That kid deserves a shout out, he was an avid little boatie, got everyone out.”

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The man was swimming more than 300 feet from the shore when the attack occurred, and five boats are combing the water looking for him, the paper reports.

The last person killed by a shark in the Perth metropolitan area was 60-year-old Doreen Collyer in 2016, according to the paper.

According to numbers from the Taronga Conservation Society, there have been a total of 17 shark attacks in Australia this year. For 2020, that number was 26.