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Beaches in Western Australia closed after fatal shark attack

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 Western Australia state closed beaches and began hunting for a great white shark believed to be responsible for the fifth fatal attack in less than a year, the fisheries department said.

The shark yesterday took a surfer off an isolated beach at Wedge Island, 100 miles north of the state capital, Perth, the department’s Shark Response Unit spokesman Tony Cappelluti said in a statement on its website. The man’s remains haven’t been recovered.

“We have placed baited lines in the water near the attack site, in an attempt to catch the shark should it return to the location,” he said in the statement posted late yesterday. “Eyewitnesses at the location told police they saw the shark swimming out to deeper water after the incident.”

There are 165 shark species in Australian waters and several, including great white, tiger and bull sharks, are dangerous to humans. Western Australia, which is spending $14.3 million over the next four years to reduce the risk of attacks, had four fatal shark attacks in a six-month period from last September to last March, according to website sharkattackfile.

The 24-year-old man who died was paddling his surf board when he was taken, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported, citing a witness whose jet-ski was also attacked by the shark he described as being 16 feet long. The man tried to recover the body before the shark took it, he said.

“The local shire has closed beaches in the area and will reassess that decision at some stage” today, Cappelluti said.

Western Australia may have to review the policy of protecting great white sharks, said the state’s fisheries minister, Norman Moore, according to ABC. He was cited as saying he was perplexed as to how to counter the shark attacks, which had become a serious problem.

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