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Surfer missing after another suspected shark attack in Western Australia

The surfer, believed to be an adult male, was surfing at Kelp Beds Beach near the town of Esperance when he was “involved in a serious shark bite accident” Friday morning, according to a statement from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. (DPIRD).

The man’s surfboard was found, but was not located, police said in the statement.

Shortly after the attack, authorities received a public report of a shark sighting at the beach, the DPIRD said. The species was unknown.

The beaches in the area have since been closed. The water police are conducting a maritime search and rescue operation, with additional ships deployed to provide assistance.

According to the Taronga Conservation Society Australia̵

7;s Australian Shark Attack File, there have been at least six fatal shark attacks off the country’s beaches this year. There were no fatal shark attacks in Australia last year and only one in 2018, according to the company’s database.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan called the latest suspected attack a “very difficult and potentially tragic situation” on Friday, CNN affiliate Seven News reported.

McGowan said the southern coast of the state, especially near Esperance, was a known breeding ground for sharks such as great whites.

Esperance is located approximately 720 kilometers (447 miles) southeast of the state capital, Perth, and is a popular diving spot.

An Australian surfer dies after a shark attack on a popular Gold Coast beach

There have been numerous shark attacks near Esperance in recent years, most notably in 2017 when Laeticia Brouwer, 17, was killed while surfing with her father.

In January of this year, a diver went missing in the area after a suspected large white attack. His body was never found.

Numerous attacks have also been reported in other Australian states in recent months, including Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania.

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