Surfer bitten in half by great white shark

9:00 AM, Jul 16, 2012   |    comments
Great white shark. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
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By USA TODAY Staff

Perth, Australia - A large great white shark is being blamed for the death of a surfer in western Australia Saturday. Reports indicate a man in his early twenties was attacked and mauled in the waters near Wedge Island, north of Perth, on Saturday morning.

A witness on a jet ski described a horrifying shark attack in which only "half a torso" remained of the victim.

"There was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive (great) white shark circling the body," he told ABC television in Australia, estimating the length at 4 to 5 meters (13-16 feet).

"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. ... There was nothing I could do."

It is the fifth fatal shark attack in less than a year in western Australia, a region known for its great surf and great-white-shark population.

Local officials including the coast guard were conducting a broad search for the remains and had closed area beaches. Australian Fisheries planned to hunt down and destroy the animal.

"We'll go right through to nightfall tonight; we will then resume that tomorrow morning and make some decisions tomorrow," a fisheries spokesman said.

The rugged waters off western Australia are a favorite hunting ground of great whites, attracted to robust marine mammal populations.

Similar great-white hot spots exist off the tip of South Africa and in Northern California, yet great whites are known to swim throughout the world's oceans.

Cape Cod in Massachusetts has seen a booming seal population in recent years, which explains a corresponding increase in the number of great whites spotted in the waters off Chatam, a popular summer tourist destination.

Massachusetts hasn't seen a fatal shark attack since 1936.

USA TODAY

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