Australian authorities said yesterday they would not attempt to hunt down a shark believed to have killed a swimmer while the victim’s family said he would not have wanted the predator to die.
Police suspect that avid diver and fisherman Brian Guest, 51, was taken by a large shark as he was snorkeling with his son near Rockingham, south of Perth on Australia’s west coast, on Saturday.
Witnesses saw flashes of fins and blood in the water and nothing has been found of Guest except some shreds believed to have come from his wetsuit.
Fremantle Water Police, who were yesterday searching the area for any remains, said there would be no attempt to hunt the shark.
“There’s no way of knowing which shark it would be,” Senior Sergeant Greg Trew said. “We could hunt down every shark from here to eternity without knowing whether we had the right one.”
As several Perth beaches were closed yesterday because of a shark sighting, Guest’s family and friends said he had a deep respect for the ocean and its hazards and would not have wanted the animal killed.
Guest’s 24-year-old son Daniel, who had been snorkeling for crabs with his father when the older man disappeared, said his father was aware of the risks of the sea.
“Dad loved and respected the ocean environment,” he told reporters.
Writing on a fishing Web site forum, Brian Guest made clear his love of the water and its creatures, saying in 2005 he did not think sharks should be killed to reduce the risk to swimmers.
A year earlier he had written: “I have always had an understanding with my wife that if a shark or ocean accident caused my death then so be it,” national news agency AAP said.
A helicopter searching for Guest spotted a large shark about 200m off Perth’s popular Cottesloe Beach early yesterday, forcing its closure and that of surrounding beaches.
But leading shark researcher Rory McAuley said despite the idea perpetuated by Hollywood movies such as Jaws that sharks repeatedly attack, this view was not held up by science.
“The old theory of the rogue shark that gets a taste for humans and repeatedly attacks has really been discredited over the past 30 years,” said McAuley, a senior research scientist with the state Department of Fisheries.
“What we are talking about here is probably a white pointer shark and white pointers are very mobile, highly migratory, so the ones in Perth are transient and don’t hang around long,” he told the Sunday Times. “There is no one reason why sharks attack.”
As the search for Guest continued, another man was recounting his close shave with a 5m great white shark in a separate incident off a northern Sydney beach on Saturday.
Steve Kulcsar’s kayak was hit by the shark, knocking him into the sea and forcing him to tread water for a minute as the giant fish swam rings around him, reports said.
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