Shark catchers out to sea after attack

2012-03-31 11:15
Sydney - The 4m shark believed to have killed Australian businessman Peter Kurmann on Saturday while he was diving with his brother near Busselton on the west coast may have been spotted.

A plane was ordered aloft after Gian Kurmann told authorities that at the time of the attack he saw a "4m, dark, shark-like shape" near their fishing boat in Geographe Bay, 230km south of Perth.

Kurmann dragged his 33-year-old brother back aboard but he was dead before their leisure vessel, reached Busselton.

"Today our family has suffered a terrible loss," Kurmann, 34, said in a statement. "We have lost a son, a brother, a husband and a wonderful father."

Department of fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti told Australian news agency AAP that he could not confirm the shark was a great white.

"We're not speculating about the species at all," he said. But he did say a spotter plane had identified a shark in the area and a boat with shark-catching gear had put to sea.

It was the fourth fatal shark attack on the west coast since September.

Bodyboarder Kyle Burden, 21, was killed near Bunker Bay in September. Local businessman Bryn Martin, 64, was killed while swimming off Perth's busy Cottesloe Beach in October. US citizen George Thomas Wainwright, 32, was fatally injured while scuba diving alone off Rottnest Island later that month.

In January, tour operator David Pickering, 26, survived an attack while snorkelling at Coral Bay.

Last year, around a quarter of the people killed by sharks anywhere in the world lost their lives on Australia's sparsely populated west coast.

The deaths prompted the West Australian state government to increase aerial shark patrols and sparked a debate about whether sharks numbers should be kept down.

Twelve people were killed by sharks around the world last year, three of them in Australia, which historically has recorded an average of just one death a year.

Over the same 12 months, estimates of the number of sharks killed by humans ranged from 30 million to 70 million.

Read more on:    australia  |  shark attacks

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