Great White Shark Attacks and Kills Diver, Rescue Team 'Still Searching the Ocean' for Body

A search operation was launched on Sunday after a man who was diving off the Australian coast was reported to have died following an encounter with a white shark.

Investigators said the incident took place close to Cull Island near West Beach in the Shire of Esperance, a region of Western Australia. Reports first surfaced at about 1 p.m., with initial information suggesting the victim was on a boat with a woman prior to the attack.

"A man is reported to have been fatally injured after being bitten by a white shark," officials said. The victim was likely diving at the time, ABC News Australia reported.

Police said in a statement: "Esperance Police and Marine Rescue WA volunteers deployed to the area on board the marine rescue vessels. They are still searching the ocean for the victim.

"A woman who was on board the boat at the time of the incident has been returned to shore, and has been taken by St John Ambulance to hospital."

Rescue personnel said the woman was found to be suffering from shock.

Air Wing and diving teams are assisting with the search and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is also aiding the investigation. An advisory from government program SharkSmart said those in the area should take additional caution.

It stated: "Use your sea sense and stay informed by checking for shark activity on the SharkSmart website, SharkSmart WA app or Surf Life Saving WA's Twitter feed. If you see a shark, report it to the Water Police on 9442 8600. All shark sighting information reported to Water Police is provided to land managers and relevant authorities and to the public on the SharkSmart website."

Fisheries officers are currently involved in assisting WA Police with a fatal shark bite incident at Cull Island, near Esperance. See more:

— Surf Life Saving WA (@SLSWA) January 5, 2020

The operation said fisheries officers will now be conducting patrols in the area.

The victim and the woman who was on-board the boat at the time of the shark attack have not yet been identified by Australian law enforcement, which has been contacted for comment.

Shire of Esperance president Ian Mickel told ABC beaches in the region will stay closed until Monday. He said: "I think of the thousands of people in Esperance this summer having a fantastic time swimming and snorkeling, to then have an event like this it is very disappointing."

"The shire closed all of the beaches immediately and endeavored to get people out of the water anywhere they knew people were surfing or swimming," Mickel added.

In April 2017, 17 year old Laeticia Brouwer died following a shark attack in the same region, reported. The teenager has been surfing with her father at the time of the incident. More than 100 species of shark currently live in Western Australian waters.

White Shark
Divers dive inside cages off the boat Nautilus Explorer in order to safely swim with the sharks on September 15, 2016. A search operation has been launched in Australia today after a man who was diving off the coast is believed to have died after being bitten by a white shark, Dave J Hogan/Getty