Two shark attacks in Western Australia

A second person was attacked by a shark near Gracetown in Western Australia, just hours after a man’s legs were savaged in an incident which forced the WSL Margaret River Pro to be temporarily suspended.

In the latest attack, a Denmark man suffered minor injuries when he was bitten on the leg at the Lefthanders surf break, about 270 kilometres south of Perth, with the shark leaving significant bite marks on his surfboard.

Justin Longrass, who was surfing at a closed beach at the time, was treated by paramedics at the scene and said he was “very lucky”.

The 41-year-old said he had been “having a ball” in the water prior to the shark attacking, with other surfers having cleared out of the water.

“The shark just headed straight for me and just nailed the board,” he said.

“I knew straight away ‘don’t kick your legs, just swim.”

Earlier, another man was mauled about 2 kilometres away at Cobblestones surfing spot shortly before 8:00am, with fellow surfers helping him back to shore before applying tourniquets to his legs.

Margaret River resident Alejandro Travaglini, 37, suffered significant leg injuries and was flown by a rescue helicopter to Royal Perth Hospital (RPH), where he is recovering from surgery in the trauma unit.

St John Ambulance said paramedics on the ground reported that first aid from his friends was crucial in the moments after the attack, as they used a leg rope to stem blood flow.

Surf photographer Peter Jovic witnessed the attack on Mr Travaglini from the beach and said it reminded him of Mick Fanning’s encounter with a shark at Jeffreys Bay.

“A shark popped up and pretty much ended up knocking a surfer from his board,” he said.

“There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on.

I saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from his surfboard and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in.

They got him to shore and started working on him to stem the bleeding.”

A 4 metre white shark was later spotted by the crew of Surf Live Saving WA’s helicopter.

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Another witness, Brett Newland, said there were about five surfers in the area when “a big shark popped up in the water amongst them”.

“It swam under a couple of guys and came around and bit a third person,” he said.

We could see its fin, and then when it attacked the man we could see its tail splashing and saw it launch up out of the water at him.”

It was a large shark and from the way it was behaving, it would have been a white pointer.

Mr Travaglini is a work crew member at the Margaret River Pro, and surfing officials said they were “devastated” by the attack.

“We’re sending our thoughts and prayers to him and his family during this difficult time and we’re working together to do everything we can to support him and his family moving forward,” Surfing WA event director Justin Majeks said.
Whale carcass found nearby

Beaches in the Gracetown area were closed following the earlier attack, including North Point, Big Rock and Lefthanders, and a shark warning was issued for waters between Kilcarnup and North Point.

An alert was also issued about a whale carcass found at Lefthanders, with beach users warned the decomposing carcass could draw sharks close to shore.

Speaking after the second attack, Acting Fisheries Minister Roger Cook said authorities had taken every precaution possible.

“Following the first incident authorities cleared beaches, erected beach closure signs, patrolled the area in boats and on foot to ensure the safety of other beach users,” he said.

In a statement, The WSL said it continues to assess the current situation at the men’s and women’s Margaret River Pro.

“We have actioned our well established safety protocols and are gathering all the latest information to determine next steps. We will continue to liaise with all involved, most importantly the surfers, their safety remains paramount.

Today’s competition (Tuesday in Western Australia) has already been called off and all surfers have been advised not to surf in the area.”

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