Surfing tournament cancelled in Australia after shark attack
A major surfing tournament in Australia has been forcibly called off following two shark attacks in the area. The World Surf League (WSL) said the final days of the Margaret River Pro event in Western Australia would have to be cancelled due to safety concerns.
On Monday, two recreational surfers survived separate attacks in Gracetown, about 6km (3.8 miles) from where the event was happening. The first man was treated for serious leg injuries while the second suffered a minor bite to his thigh. The event had to be suspended for an hour after the first attack on Monday.
But organisers said “actively aggressive sharks” remained in the area on Wednesday, possibly due to the presence of nearby beached whales.
“The present circumstances are unusual and troubling and we have decided that the level of risk during this season’s Margaret River Pro has crossed the acceptable threshold,” said chief executive Sophie Goldschmidt. “The WSL puts highest premium on safety and it cannot be compromised,” she added.
Some competitors, including Brazil’s Italo Ferreira, had expressed concerns about returning to the water. “Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, just a few kilometres from where the event is being held,” he wrote on Instagram. “Very dangerous, don’t you think? Is the safety of athletes not priority?”
Another Brazilian surfer, Gabriel Medina, wrote: “I do not feel safe training and competing in this kind of place, any time anything can happen to one of us.” Medina had endured a shark scare during a competition in South Africa last year when he and Australian surfer Mick Fanning had to be removed from the water.
The first man to be attacked on Monday, Alejandro Travaglini, had to undergo surgery after being mauled by, what he said, was a white pointer shark, also known as a Great White. Travaglini, 37, had a close shave and managed to escape the shark’s jaws and bodysurf back to shore with the help of other surfers.
The second man was attacked a few hours after Travaglini at a nearby beach, despite it being closed by authorities. He was treated by paramedics for minor injuries. The Margaret River Pro was scheduled to conclude on Sunday.