Police later said they shot the shark, which had remained close to shore, for nearly half an hour after the attack. The shark’s species was not immediately confirmed, but locals told reporters it may have been a tiger shark, sometimes drawn close to shore by schools of small fish.
Kimberley District Office Police Inspector Gene Pears told reporters the victim embarked about 30 to 40 meters (100 to 130 feet) from the beach when she was attacked. A couple on the beach saw them struggling in the water and rushed to drag the man to safety. The man sustained injuries to his leg and hand.
“It’s a tragic, very unexpected incident, a person going out for a bit of fun in the water,” Pears said.
Park rangers immediately closed the beach and a fishing boat was assigned to patrol the area.
The death toll of eight in shark attacks this year is the highest in Australia since 1929, when nine died. The introduction of shark nets to popular beaches in the 1930s resulted in a significant drop in fatal attacks.
The most recent previous attack in Western Australia occurred on October 9, when a surfer was captured by a shark in Esperance on the state’s south coast. The companions saw the man, Andrew Sharpe, dragged off his board. His body was not found despite a three-day search, but his surfboard and parts of his wetsuit were found.
Broome, near where Sunday’s shark attack took place, is about 1,600 kilometers north of Perth, Western Australia’s largest city.