"You’ve got a situation where the numbers have built right back up again. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. The numbers are very high… similar to what they were in the 1960s."
Historical perspective is a hell of a thing.
So how about this.
There has never been a period in human history when humans, divers, surfers, whatever, have been killed by Great Whites in such numbers as in 2020: seven deaths this year, four surfers, Rob Pedretti, Mani Hart-Deville, Nick Slater and the “well-known local surfer” Andrew Sharpe killed yesterday, and three divers.
A local surfer said he was taken “almost whole. The body is just fucking gone.”
An Esperance local, Jess Anne, was swimming with her kid a kilometre away and said the water turned red.
“It did stretch quite a fair way in the water,” she told 7News.
And the fatality rate from Great White attack, usually one in ten, is now two out of three.
For the Western Australian premier Mark McGowan, Newcastle-born, educated in Coffs Harbour and Queensland before joining the navy and moving to WA, another shark attack is business as usual; a result, he says, of man entering the beast’s domain.
After yesterday’s attack at Kelpies in Esperance, where teenager surfer Laticia Brouwers died in front of her family after being hit by a Great White in 2017, where Sean Pollard, 23, had an arm and another hand bitten off by a Great White in 2014 and a few clicks away from where diver Gary Johnson was killed by a White in January, the premier said “There’s always a risk when you go in the water.”
As Marie Antoinette asked her servants after being told the peasants were starving, “If there’s no bread why don’t they eat brioche?”
The mood, as you’d expect, is pretty hostile to Great Whites down in Esperance right now. There’s a theory kicking around that once a shark has a “blood meal” it’ll return to the area during their annual migration.
Diver Greg Pickering, who’s been hit twice by sharks, the last a Great White in Esperance in 2013 (interestingly, seven years almost to the day since yesterday’s attack) called for a cull after Laticia Brouwers was hit warning then that WA could expect “more of the same” unless action was taken to reduce growing shark numbers.
An abalone diver for forty years, he told PerthNow, “There wasn’t any. You never saw them. That’s changed now. You’ve got a situation where the numbers have built right back up again. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. The numbers are very high. I’d say they’re similar to what they were in the 1960s. I’ve seen more sharks over the last few years than in the 20 or 30 years before that.”
The attack and Australia’s Great White Crisis has gone curiously unreported by the surf media, Surfline running a story on the importance of sharks in the eco-system and Stab magazine ignoring the attack altogether instead preferring to run a story called Rusty’s Been Rad Since Forever and Their New Collection is No Exception, a thousand or so words on the brand’s Before Crowds collection.