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horrific Witness to shark attack in Western Australia describes moment swimmer was 'dragged under'

'She said, ‘Don't go in there, there's been a shark sighting’

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A file photo of a Great White Shark

A file photo of a Great White Shark

A file photo of a Great White Shark

Witnesses have described the horrific moment a swimmer was “dragged under” by a shark at a beach in Western Australia. 

A major search operation is underway for the man, who was in his 50s, in and around Port Beach in Fremantle after he was attacked while swimming alongside a dinghy.

Police, rescue boats and helicopters have been involved in the search in the seas off the Perth metropolitan area.

The man in his 20s, who said he hadn’t seen “the initial hit”, saw the struggle in the water that followed.

“I saw the man struggling in the water, and then there was a commotion with a tinny (a small dinghy) coming over surrounding the guy and that was the last they saw if him,” he recalled.

“It was big, and it looked like a White,” he said. “After the attack we saw it swing out the water with its fin. He was a big one.

“And then we saw these young guns in a tinny racing up the beach raising the alarm.”

Despite an extensive search operation, the man has not been found.

WA Police Senior Sergeant Troy Douglas said he couldn’t confirm reports there was more than one shark behind the attack after it was claimed that both a great white and a tiger had been spotted.

A group of boys who were in the dinghy who say they saw the incident raised the alarm.

WA police acting inspector Emma Barnes said the search was ongoing, adding that “the actions of the witnesses were heroic and very brave”.

“They got everyone else out of the water and notified everyone of what was happening,” she said.

Police also praised the courage of beachgoers who made sure no one else was hurt.

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"I can say that the actions of the witnesses were heroic and very brave: for getting everyone else in the water out of the water and notifying everyone of what was happening," Inspector Barnes added.

One witness, Suzanne Harding, who was at the beach and about to go in the water when a woman stopped her.

“She said, ‘Don't go in there, there's been a shark sighting’,” Ms Harding said.

"At this stage there were dinghies just off to my left, just down a bit, and then within a minute or so - obviously we didn't go into the water - these young boys in the dinghy came screaming up along the beach, waving everyone out of the water."

Another witness told ABC News he was at Port Beach and was shocked when he found out about the incident.

"Apparently they're looking for a body, so sounds pretty bad," Alex Dodds said. "Hopefully they can find it."

He revealed he was also attacked by a shark recently.

"I was coming down for my first swim post-op, six weeks ago," he said. "First time back in the ocean after my attack, so pretty heavy."

There have been 17 shark attacks in Australia this year and two deaths, according to data from the Taronga Conservation Society, an Australian government agency in charge of several zoological parks.

Australia has one of the highest numbers of unprovoked shark encounters with humans, compared with other countries, and is ranked second behind the US in 2019, according to University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

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