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Surfer presumed dead in shark attack off Western Australian coast

An Australian surfer is presumed to have been killed by a shark off the coast of Western Australia, local media reported Saturday.

The man, who has not been identified because authorities have not notified his family, was waiting to catch a wave with a friend off Wedge Island, around 100 miles north of Perth, at 9 a.m. Saturday (7 p.m. ET Friday) when he was mauled by the shark, police said. 

"It's reported to be a fatal attack," a police spokesman said according to The Australian newspaper. The AFP news agency, meanwhile, said beach patrol officials had confirmed that the man, believed to be in his twenties, had died.

However authorities were still searching for his remains — and for the shark responsible for the attack. 

It would be the fifth fatal shark attack off the coast of Western Australia since September.

According to witnesses, the surfers were around 45-55 yards offshore when the incident occurred.

"I was towing my mate on the back of the jet-ski and just in front of us saw a guy get attacked by a shark," witness Matt Holmes told Australian TV channel ABC.

"And I just took my mate to the shore and went straight out and there was just blood everywhere and a massive, massive white shark circling the body ... And I reached to grab the body and the shark came at me on the jet-ski and tried to knock me off," Holmes said.

He added that he circled back again to try to recover the body but saw the shark swim away with the remains. Holmes described the shark as being 4-5 meters (13-16 feet) long.

Tony Cappelluti, from Australia's department of fisheries, told WA Today that the attack, believed to have been by a great white shark, took place off a remote part of the beach.

All beaches near Wedge Island have been closed until further notice, authorities said.

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