06:17 GMT21 October 2020
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    A man was bumped off of his board by a shark while surfing off of the coast of Western Australian on Friday, resulting in widespread investigations by local authorities and volunteers.

    Pieces of a torn wetsuit have been discovered on Saturday in the area where an Australian surfer disappeared after being attacked by a shark, the Daily Mail reported.

    Andrew Sharpe was surfing at Kelp Beds in Wylie Bay, near Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia before he was "flung into the air" at 11am on Friday.

    Also known as 'Sharpey', the father of two has not been seen since and the surfboard later turned up on the beach with bite marks on it, described as "obvious signs" of a shark attack.

    While the two pieces of a wetsuit were discovered nearby, police have said that DNA testing will be required to ascertain the truth.

    "We don't hold any ongoing hope unfortunately for Mr Sharpe's survival", said Senior Sergeant Justin Tarasinski while speaking to reporters on Saturday afternoon.
    "We'll continue on for as long as we possibly can… and that's about trying to bring some closure to Mr Sharpe's family", Sergeant Tarasinski said.

    Sergeant Tarasinski said that teams including divers had been conducting searches in the water from 8.30am on Saturday. 

    "The dive team were conducting their searches from the back of the Surf Life Saving jetskis as opposed to diving in the water and that's due to the risk", he said.
    He confirmed that the search plans to go on "for as long as we possibly can with the resources that we have".
    "They're desperate to bring closure to Mr Sharpe's family", he added.

    While the search party was called off at 2pm amid bad weather but is expected to resume first thing on Sunday, locals also took the investigation into their own hands and are using their own vessels looking for the "much loved" surfer.    

    Among those looking for Mr Sharpe are six different organisations including Esperance Police, Surf Life Saving WA, and Marine Rescue Esperance.  

    According to 7News, Mr Sharpe was out with a group of friends when they spotted him being toppled from the board.

    Mr Sharpe was bumped off his board by the shark before being dragged into the water, the West Australian reports.

    The attack was seen by around 8 other surfers and witnesses also reported a massive shark with a dorsal fin around a metre high was visible.

    WA Premier Mark McGowan described the situation on Friday as "very serious".

    "Unfortunately he hasn't been recovered at this point in time", Mr McGowan said. 

    Mr McGowan said that WA's south coast, around Esperance in particular, was a prolific breeding ground for great white sharks and large seal colonies.

    He said that the government had introduced extra safety measures to keep swimmers and surfers safe, including helicopter patrols, monitoring stations, and subsidised shark shields.    

    Chairman of the Esperance Ocean Safety and Support Group, Mitchell Capelli, said he was left shook upon hearing the news of the incident.

    "We're devastated — he was a local legend", Mr Capelli said to The West Australian. 

    "Plain and simple the balance of nature is out of whack".

    "We're dealing with something that didn't just take one bite, it bumped him, bit him and took him down. It shouldn't be in the ocean anymore", the chairman said.

    Esperance has been the site of many other shark attacks in recent years. 

    Gary Johnson who died after being bitten by a shark on Esperance coast near Cull Island in January of this year.

    In 2017, 17-year-old Laeticia Brouwer was killed by a great white shark after her left leg was ripped off at the hip while surfing with her father.

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    Tags:
    surfing, Investigation, shark attack, Western Australia
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