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Surfer killed in shark attack off Australian coast

By Dana Ford, CNN
July 16, 2012 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Authorities are still searching for the victim's remains
  • His age and identity are not immediately released
  • The surfer is believed to have been taken by a great white
  • The stretch off Western Australia's southern coast is one of the deadliest for shark attacks

(CNN) -- A surfer was killed Saturday in a shark attack off the coast of Australia, at least the fifth such attack in less than a year.

The man had been surfing just south of Wedge Island in Western Australia when he was taken by what is believed to be a great white, the Department of Fisheries said in a statement.

The identity and age of the victim were not immediately released. Authorities were still searching for his remains.

"When last seen the shark was heading offshore, but we have placed baited lines in the water near the attack site, in an attempt to catch the shark should it return to the location or pose a threat in the area," said Tony Cappelluti, spokesman for the department's Shark Response Unit.

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Some area beaches were closed after the incident, but no further shark sightings have been reported.

The stretch of water along Western Australia's southern coast is one of the deadliest for shark attacks. Three people were mauled in the water in September and October, while a fourth was taken in March while diving with his brother about one nautical mile off Stratham Beach.

More people were killed by sharks along that southern coast than anywhere else in the world in 2011, according to the International Shark Attack File.

"Certainly for Australia, and Western Australia in particular, I would say that five deaths from shark attacks in less than 12 months is very unusual," said Cappelluti.

He declined to say what might be behind the attacks, but said a lot of research is being done on the subject and that authorities hope to have more information soon.

Still, others manage to come face-to-face with the aquatic creatures and live to tell the tale.

Nathan Podmore and his friend were spear fishing off the coast of Western Australia, south of Perth, recently when they came across a 12-foot-long shark.

"It wasn't in attack mode. It was more curious," he told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield. He said he and his friend fended it off before getting back to their boat.

"I always said that I would like to see one. ... No, but, I never want to see another one in the water. It's nuts," Podmore said.

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