(Warning: Grandparents not allowed to read this!) We heard helicopters hovering nearby as we were in different stages of getting out of bed and getting ready for the day this morning. We hurried up to our beach on Warnbro Sound to see what was up.  Massive search and rescue was underway.  The news is reporting a shark attack on a diver.  Some say they saw a 4 or 5 meter "white pointer." We've got heaps of photos of the 4 helicopters and a dozen or more boats involved - to be posted here later.  It was the top story on national news in Australia at noon.  Check updates on our Perth newspaper web site. It's been about 5 hours since the first reports and we can still hear the helicopters from our house.  More to come.  This is the same beach we were playing cricket on just yesterday. 

shark search crowdIt's now Saturday evening as I write.  This morning on the beach here at Warnbro Sound at about 7:00am, a 51-year old man and his 24-year old son were snorkeling when it seems the father was attacked by a 4-5 metre great white shark.  Despite an all-out, massive search operation including 4 helicopters, at least a dozen rescue boats, and several rescue jet skis, the man has not been found and is presumed dead.  Very sad news. They're calling off the search at dark now and will resume it at 7:00am Sunday.

Shark search map

Read Peter's blog about the shark search here.

The location where they were diving was only about 500 yards down the beach from where we were swimming and playing beach cricket the day before.  We heard the helicopters hovering as we were getting out of bed and hurried over to the beach to see what the commotion was.  We stood with dozens of people at a car park lookout for about 2 1/2 hours, not knowing for about the first hour whether it was a shark attack or something else.

See Peter's photo gallery and my photo gallery. (login required)

Peter and I took heaps of photos as the search operation unfolded right in front of us and above us.  The closeup shots of the helicopters show how close we were, but I'm not sure we have a good photo that shows a wide shot of the whole operation.  It was amazing to see the 4 helicopters working in very close proximity while teams of boats were sweeping the sound in evenly spaced parallel lines.  On the beach there were police and ranger trucks, rescue four-wheel ATVs, and the news cameras, and well over hundred people.  Cars were parked a couple of blocks back from the beach - crowded enough that when Lanette came back from a trip to the house, she turned around to park at home and walk instead.

Tim on newsThe shark attack is one of the top stories on national news down here tonight.  I spotted myself on the report that aired on the national network 9 news and on Sky News.  You might be able to view the whole news report on the 9 website here (see video report that I was on, then scroll down that page for the news story).  If you watch the video, note that the scene of heaps of splashing in the water is not the shark, but a school of snappers that may have been why the shark came into the sound.  There are other news stories on the web at The West Australian (Perth newspaper) and the ABC (Australia) sites.

rescueThis morning, Karl and I had been hearing a helicopter for a while as we were getting ready for the day, so we went outside to see what was happening. There was a search and rescue helicopter and a Channel 7 news helicopter circling over a spot on the beach. We told Mon, Dad, and Dane. We decided to drive to the beach to see them. When we got to the parking lot by the beach, there were dozens of people watching. There were at least 15 large boats and 4 helicopters scanning the water. We heard from other people there that a 5-meter great white shark had attacked a man. We stayed at the beach watching and taking pictures for two and a half hours. When we came back home, we watched it on the news. Helicopters and boats were searching for the shark and the body all day. They are stopping overnight but will begin again tomorrow morning.

watching the search

We see this poster each time we ride the train into Perth (below).  The baby is holding a stop sign that says "Stop, Priority Seat for Mum and Me."  The baby's face has been "photoshopped" to appear angry - we think they used Dane's head.  We laugh each time we see it.  The intent of the poster is to reserve special seats by the doors for parents with toddlers or the elderly, etc.

It's been 3 days plus since the shark attack on our beach last Saturday.  The search by boats and helicopters for the missing diver has been scaled back having found no site of him except for the bit of his wetsuit found soon after the attack.  The 51-year old man was an experienced diver and fisherman who lived just off the beach not far from us.

Our beaches here were reopened on Monday afternoon.  However, we noticed some increased activity by the beach this morning (Tuesday), and so I rode my bike over there to see what was up.  A news helicopter was in the sky, two policeman were next to me at the lookout, a boat was patrolling the water, and a 4-wheel ATV was on the beach.  Later this afternoon we found out that they were there because there was another sighting of a shark at about 9:30am.  It was "menacing" two fishermen in a small dinghy, and a patrol boat later followed it out to deeper waters.  So the beach was marked with "closed" signs.  Yet there were a number of people ankle deep in the water and even some in further.  One mother was sitting with water up to her neck while playing with her toddler.  The policemen said there isn't much they can do to force people out of the water even when it's marked closed.

The news story about today's shark sighting can be read here. That web page also has a video newscast about today's shark sighting, and if you watch further, the newscast continues with a shocking story from our Rockingham Golf Club (where Lanette and I golfed with the roos in October) where some kids have been sneaking in and mutilating kangaroos.

There have been other sightings of sharks near Perth and also near Sydney (east coast) in recent days, and being the summer holidays, it's getting lots of news coverage.  Last night I was watching Fox News from the US - the America's Newsroom show with Bill Hemmer.  They had a segment about the sharks in Australia and talked to an expert from Florida about the attacks on people.  They showed some of the video footage from our beach here in Warnbro.

According to the International Shark Attack File from the University of Florida, there had only been 37 reported shark attacks in Western Australia between the year 1700 until 2007 (see map showing attack data here). That's why they're saying this is so rare.  Our local paper today had an article with quotes from experts, police, and the mayor downplaying the risks of swimming and encouraging people not to be afraid to go in the water... once the beaches are opened again.

Obviously we haven't been in the water here since the shark attack.  With a few busy days ahead of us preparing for a New Years Eve party at our house and our camping trip, we probably won't think about it.  With the temps going up and over 100°F, it would be nice to take a cool dip in the ocean.