Published October 22, 2011
CANBERRA, Australia – Police have named the victim of Saturday's fatal shark attack in Western Australia as George Thomas Wainwright, 32, a US citizen from Texas, PerthNow reported.
Wainwright was in Australia on a working visa and had been living in Western Australia.
Wainwright was struck by the predator around 1:30 p.m. local time while diving alone on the northwest of Rottnest Island.
Two of his friends aboard a private boat watched in horror as a "flurry of bubbles" developed in the water before the body surfaced with "obvious traumatic fatal injuries," Western Australia Police Sgt. Gerry Cassidy said.
Distraught, they made a desperate emergency services call after retrieving the man's body from the water and witnessing a shark, which they described as a 9.8-foot great white.
Authorities have issued a catch-to-kill order to destroy the shark.
The death was the third shark killing in seven weeks, and the fourth in 14 months, prompting Fisheries Minister Norman Moore to issue the first order in the state's history for his officers to trap and kill the beast in a bid to protect public safety.
"It's a cloudy old day today which is the same as we had the other day with Cottesloe, and they're the conditions that sharks love," Cassidy said.
While surrounding beaches were cleared in the wake of Saturday's attack, two fisheries vessels armed with "shark catching equipment" arrived at Rottnest, a popular tourist spot located 11 miles off the coast from the city of Fremantle.
"The decision has been made that if we capture the shark we will kill it," Department of Fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti said. "The intention is for us to set some gear at the site of the attack and see if we can capture the shark. The policy is that if there's a clear and present danger that we can take a great white."
The attack came just 12 days after local businessman Bryn Martin, 64, disappeared while swimming at Cottesloe Beach, just north of Fremantle. He is presumed dead, the victim of a shark attack.
Premier Colin Barnett opened the door to the possibility of mass shark culls following the latest killing.
"We will certainly look at that as a government," he said. "Culling could be considered if those sharks are staying around popular beach areas."
Great whites can grow to more than 20 feet long and 5,000 pounds. They are protected in Australia, a primary location for the species.
NewsCore and The Associated Press contributed to this report.