Shark attacks in Western Australia have reached unprecedented numbers, the Fisheries Minister said.
Ben Linden, a 24-year-old musician and cabinet maker from Perth, is the fifth fatality of a shark attack in a WA beach in ten months. His family, friends, and girlfriend have been left devastated by the tragedy.
Linden was surfing with a mate off Wedge Island when the attack happened on Saturday. They were about 100 metres away from shore. Linden's mate immediately called for help, and a young man in jet ski made attempts to recover his body.
A brave young man's effort
A jet-ski rider, who had seen the shark, tried to pull Linden's body but it all happened too fast.
Matt Holmes, 22, said the shark even tried to knock him off his jet ski. Describing what he saw, he said it was a "massive, massive white shark."
Holmes, who did not know Linden, expressed his sympathies for the man's family. He was towing a friend on his jet ski when he heard Linden's mate call for help. Holmes then brought his friend to shore and went for Linden.
"I tried to lean off the side and pull him on the back, but as I did that, the shark came back and nudged the jet ski to try to knock me off."
Linden made a loop to try again even as the shark was acting aggressively against him.
"When I came back the second time, he took the rest of him. I just thought about his family and if he had kids. I just wanted to get him to shore. I gave it everything I had," he said.
Linden's remains have yet to be recovered.
Linden's girlfriend: 'He was my best friend and soulmate'
Linden's girlfriend of eight years, Alana Noakes, mourned her loss on Facebook.
"Ben was the most amazing man, he lit up the lives of all who knew him," Noakes wrote.
"He was the most talented, good-natured, beautiful person I've ever met. He was the love of my life, my best friend, my rock and my soulmate."
In her loving tribute Noakes added:
"Let's remember that he was doing something that meant the world to him. Surfing was his soul, his life, his culture and his passion. He loved mother nature in all her glory and is now in her arms eternally. Let's rejoice in that."
Shark attacks in Australia reach unprecedented numbers
WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore expressed distress over the shark attacks, which have resulted to five deaths in 10 months.
He also pointed out there were indications that the shark could have been staying off Wedge Island since Tuesday.
Moore ordered on Saturday the killing of the shark if caught. He also said the killer sharks may have grown in big numbers since they were declared as protected species in the 1990s.
"Regrettably, people are being taken by sharks in numbers which we have never seen before," Moore said. He added he will lobby to Canberra for a review of the situation.