On Monday, two separate shark attacks occurred near Gracetown, Western Australia within hours of each other, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The first attack led to area beaches being closed, and even prompted World Surf League officials to put the Championship Tour event the Margaret River Pro on hold less than 10 miles away.
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The first attack happened in the early morning at a break called Cobblestones. ABC News Australia reports, “Margaret River resident Alejandro Travaglini, 37, suffered significant leg injuries.”
Travaglini was helped by fellow surfers to the beach where a tourniquet was applied to his leg before he was flown by a rescue helicopter to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH). Travaglini is a work crew member for the Margaret River Pro and ABC News Australia reports he is currently recovering from surgery in the trauma unit.
Eyewitness Brett Newland told ABC News Australia, “We could see its fin, and then when it attacked the man we could see its tail splashing and saw it launch up out of the water at him. It was a large shark and from the way it was behaving, it would have been a white pointer.”
This attack led to beach closures in the area, as well as the WSL putting the Margaret River Pro on hold. After a one-hour wait, the WSL decided to resume competition.
After discussing with local authorities, the Water Safety Team and surfers, the WSL Commissioner's Office has decided to resume competition for the Margaret River Pro at Main Break at 10:40am, following a one-hour hold prompted by reports of a shark incident at Gracetown – approximately 15 kms away from the event site. Surfer and Staff safety are top priorities for the WSL and when competition resumes, further enhanced safety measures, including ski and drone presence, will be added to the event's mitigation protocols. We look forward to a great completion of the event.
A whale carcass was also found at an area break called Lefthanders, which gave further reasons for officials to issue shark alerts and to keep beaches closed. Despite all this, a second attack occurred later in the day at that very break.
Jason Longrass, 41, suffered minor injuries when he was bitten on the leg. The shark left significant bite marks on his surfboard. Longrass considered himself “lucky” and had no idea that the beach had been closed.
Acting Fisheries Minister Roger Cook told ABC News Australia, “Signs had been erected at the beach, the helicopter was patrolling the beach and alerts had been issued on both SharkSmart.com.au and Surf Life Saving WA’s Twitter. This incident highlights the importance of heeding the beach closures and other warnings put in place by authorities.”
Western Australia has long been known for its frequent surfer/shark interactions. Just last week, two-time world champion surfer John Florence and friends were chased out of the water in Western Australia by a shark during a free surf session.
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