15 Jul 2012

Shark kills Australian surfer

6:15 am on 15 July 2012

A shark has killed a man surfing off the coast of Western Australia, in the fifth fatal shark attack in the state in 10 months.

The 24-year-old man was paddling his surfboard near Wedge Island, 160 kilometres north of Perth, on Saturday when he was attacked by what witnesses believe was a five-metre great white shark, the ABC reports.

The victim's body is yet to be recovered.

A man who tried to help the surfer says when he attempted to get close to the body, the shark attacked his jet-ski before taking the man.

Western Australia fisheries minister Norman Moore says the number of fatal attacks raises questions as to whether great white sharks should remain a protected species.

Popular beaches along Western Australia's mid-west coast remained closed on Saturday as fisheries officers continued their search for the shark responsible for the attack.

An Australian Department of Fisheries spokesperson says if it is found it will be killed.

Sharks are a common feature in Australian waters but attacks are rare, with only 46 fatalities in the past half-century, according to the Australian Shark Attack File.