Great White Sharks
Representational imageTwitter/ For a Living Planet

The victim of a shark attack in Australia who had been fighting for his life died in Royal Perth Hospital on Friday night. Ben Gerring, a 29-year-old surfer and a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) employee, was suspected to be attacked by a great white shark near Mandurah in Western Australia (WA) on Tuesday. Gerring was hospitalised in critical condition with his leg severed above the knee. 

According to Perth Now, the incident took place just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday and fellow surfers immediately rushed to his aid. He was rushed to Peel Health Campus, before being transferred by helicopter to Royal Perth hospital about 80 km away.

According to the Guardian, a 4.2 metre-long great white shark was caught on Wednesday in baited drum lines close to the site where Gerring was attacked. However, Fisheries Australia said in a statement that the shark was captured because it fitted the criteria of a hazardous shark — tiger, white, or bull shark more than 3 metre long — and not because it could be shown to be responsible for the attack on Gerring.

The Guadrian also reported that Lynn MacLaren, the WA Greens MP, criticised Fisheries Australia for not conducting a formal autopsy on the shark, telling radio channel RTR FM in Perth on Thursday that it was "usually required to prove that a shark was involved in a particular attack". "They went out, they caught a very, very large shark, possibly a great white, and that shark was possibly in the area a day after a surfer was attacked," MacLaren said.

Fisheries department regional manager Tony Cappelluti said the controversial drum lines were set on Wednesday morning as per the WA government's policy.

The use of traps is controversial and was widely criticised on Wednesday by many citizens, including MacLaren, and University of Sydney lecturer Christopher Neff, who said killing individual sharks did not make the ocean safer.

Cappelluti defended the fisheries department warning system, which was questioned after it emerged that the department had known there was a large shark in the area where Gerring was attacked on Tuesday morning. He referred to the online warnings and said it was up to people to check those websites before entering the water.

The Smart Shark website of the Fisheries Department and the voluntary organisation, Surf Life Saving WA, had posted information online earlier in the day that a 3.5-metre white shark had been sighted at Pyramids Beach in nearby Dawesville, about 1.8 km offshore.

Meanwhile, a crowd funding campaign, set up to help the Gerring family, has raised about $35,000 in three days. 

Gerring was the 13th person to die from a shark attack in Western Australia since 2000. His death is the first shark fatality in WA since December 2014, when spear fisherman Jay Muscat was killed by a four to five-metre great white. The last attack was reported in October 2015, when surfer Eli Zawadzki, 18, was bitten on the foot at Dawesville by a suspected grey nurse.

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