Wife of Diver Mauled by Great White Shark Says She's Still Wants Animals Protected Despite Husband's Death

The wife of a man killed by a shark off Australia's south-western coast has described how the experienced scuba diver was always "aware of the risks" while calling for better fish stock protection to help prevent further attacks.

The body of Gary Johnson has still not been found after he was attacked by a great white shark while diving Cull Island, near West Beach in the Shire of Esperance, on the afternoon of January 5.

Johnson's body had only just entered the water when he was attacked. His wife, Karen Milligan, also had to be treated for shock after witnessing the incident.

Milligan has since issued a statement about her husband, describing him as a "kind, gentle, strong man" while saying she still does not want the shark responsible for his death to be killed.

"Gary was my rock," Milligan said. "He only ever saw the best in people. He will be so truly missed by me, by his family and his friends and the world will be a poorer place without this most beautiful man.

"He and I were at home in and on the ocean. We would go out diving in our boat whenever we could, most weekends. We took photos, not fish.

"We were always aware of the risks, and often told each other that if we were attacked by a shark, that would just be unlucky.

"We were completely against shark culling, and I still am."

The practice of shark culling was first introduced in Western Australia in 2014 as part of government plans to protect the public following a spate of fatal shark attacks the previous years.

The programme, which has been met with opposition and protests from conservationist, animal rights groups and environmentalists, uses baited drumlines to lure sharks.

In 2018, the West Australian Government trialed the so-called SMART (Shark Management Alert in Real Time) drum lines, which would capture, tag and release the sharks away from the shore instead of killing them.

In her statement, Milligan said how the public would be better protected from shark attacks if the ocean's fish population and ecosystems were better protected.

"We have watched with dismay the reduction of fish stocks over the years," she added.

"We believed that if fish stocks were better protected, then the risk to people in the water would be reduced. Gary's vision was to have a Marine Park in the Esperance area."

As reported by 9News, Johnson's death is the third fatal shark attack to occur in the Esperance area in six years.

In April 2017, a 17-year-old girl died after being attacked while surfing at Kelp Beds. A male surfer also lost his left arm and right hand after being attacked by two sharks at Kelp Beds in October 2014.

The search for Johnson's body continued on Monday, January 6. The Volunteer Marine Rescue Western Australia has been contacted for further information.

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(File photo) During author Peter Benchley's recent expedition to photograph the Great White Shark in waters off Dangerous Reef, 27 miles southwest of here, one of the beasts went into a frenzy as it attacked a huge chunk of bloody horsemeat, hung near cage to bring sharks in close enough to be photographed by Benchley and his movie cameraman. A wife has paid tribue to her husband after he was kileld by a shark off the coast of western Australia. Bettmann / Contributor/Getty
Wife of Diver Mauled by Great White Shark Says She's Still Wants Animals Protected Despite Husband's Death | World