A surfer is believed to have died off the south coast of Western Australia after numerous witnesses saw him attacked by a shark. Police are searching for the local man who suffered a "serious shark bite" while surfing at Kelp Beds Beach in Wylie Bay near Esperance just before 11am local time Friday, reports the Guardian. Witnesses tell 7News that the attack likely wasn't survivable. "The chances of survival are obviously pretty slim considering some of the accounts that have been provided to us," Esperance Police Sgt. Justin Tarasinski says, per 9News. He notes the man's surfboard washed ashore "with obvious signs of shark attack." A woman who was in the water described seeing a shark that was up to 10 feet long just before ambulances whizzed by, per the Guardian.
The area is popular, particularly with surfers and divers, though it's a known breeding ground for sharks, including great whites. A diver is believed to have died in a suspected great white attack there in January. His body was never found. A 17-year-old girl also died after suffering a shark bite at the beach in 2017, per the Guardian. It's been a bad year for shark attacks in Australia overall. Six people have been killed, per CNN, which notes there were no fatal attacks in 2019 and just one in 2018. The search for the man was called off late Friday but was due to resume on Saturday. The beach has been closed. Meanwhile, experts are examining the surfboard to try to determiner which species of shark was involved. (A surfer's near-miss with a shark was just recorded off the country's east coast.)