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Diver mauled to death by shark off Western Australia in 4th recent attack


Avalon Beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches is closed to the public after a shark attack on a surfer on March 1, 2009 in Sydney, Australia.


Ian Waldie

A diver has been killed by a shark off a Western Australia beach, the fourth fatal attack off the WA coast since September last year.

The man — identified by Australia's Daily Telegraph as Peter Kurmann, 33, a father of two — was taken while diving with his brother from a small open boat about a mile off Stratham Beach, about 140 miles southwest of Perth, shortly before 9:30 a.m.

The shark was believed to be 13 feet long, but the species was unknown, the Australian Associated Press reported, adding that beaches in the area had been closed and and aerial patrol was being launched.

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Australia usually averages about one shark attack death each year, according to the Fairfax media, however in 2011, three men were killed in shark attacks of WA in a period of two months.

They were Texan man George Thomas Wainwright, 32, killed scuba diving alone off Rottnest Island in October; businessman Bryn Martin, 64, killed while swimming off Perth's Cottesloe Beach the same month; and bodyboarder Kyle Burden, 21, killed near Bunker Bay in WA's southwest in September.

The Telegraph quoted WA shark expert Hugh Edwards  as saying he was "almost certain" a great white was responsible for the attack.

He also said that "it could not be ruled out" that one shark was responsible for all the attacks, in a "Jaws" scenario.

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.Kurmann's mauled body was recovered from the water by his brother and taken to Port Geographe Marina in Busselton.

Experts from the Department of Fisheries will examination the bite marks on his body to determine what species involved in the attack.

Kurmann, from Vasse in the state's south-west, was the husband of a Busselton councilor, according to Telegraph.

The paper quoted his brother, Gian, as saying: "Our family has suffered a terrible loss. We have lost a son, a brother, a husband and a wonderful father. Words cannot express how we feel at this time, we are in mourning and wish you to respect our privacy."

AAP cited the WA Premier, Colin Barnett, as saying he was concerned about the number of recent fatal shark in attacks in the state but would not be issuing a shoot-to-kill order. Such an order would only be issued if the shark was posing an ongoing threat to people, he said.

Barnett urged West Australians to swim at supervised beaches.

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