Pictured: The Texan diver, 32, killed by great white shark off Australian coast

Sunday, October 23, 2011

-George Thomas Wainwright sustained 'horrific' injuries while diving off Rottnest Island, a few miles from Perth
-The Houston man was in Austrlia on a work visa, and had been living there for six months
-Wainwright is third person to die from great white attack in southwest of country in two months
-Authorities today using controversial baiting tactics in bid to lure shark and kill it

By Laurie Whitwell

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Catch: George Wainwright, the 32-year-old Texan who was killed by a great white shark in Australia, is pictured displaying red snapper from a fishing trip in the country

The first pictures of the 32-year-old American diver who was yesterday killed off the coast of Western Australia by a great white shark show a keen fisherman posing with his catches.

With a red snapper in each hand, George Thomas Wainwright proudly displays his haul in photographs taken during the Texan's stay in Perth, Australia.

Wainwright, who is in Australia on a work visa, became the latest victim of a shark attack in the country when he sustained 'horrific' injuries as he scuba dived near tourist haven Rottnest Island, which lies a few miles off the coast.

Big haul: Wainwright, from Houston, had been in Perth on a work visa for six months before the attack yesterday

Diving boat: Wainwright, pictured nearest the camera, had gone scuba diving with two friends in a 25-foot vessel when the shark struck

The state government today set tuna-baited hooks off the island in a bid to catch the shark and kill it.

Officials said Wainwright and two friends were diving from a 25-foot vessel, 500 yards north west of an area known as Little Armstrong Bay, when the 10-foot great white shark attacked.

They did not realise he was missing until bubbles emerged from the water and a short time later the man's body rose to the surface with what were said by a local fisherman to be 'shocking injuries'.

Wainwright's friends pulled him out of the water and police helped get him to shore, but he did not survive.

Wainwright, a recreational diver, was from Houston, but had been living in a beachside suburb of Perth for the last six months or so. He had set his Facebook page to name the city as his location.

The shark struck just 11 miles from a popular Perth city mainland beach where a 64-year-old Australian swimmer is believed to have been taken by a great white on October 10.

That death came six weeks after a bodyboarder was killed by a shark and this latest death is the fourth from a great white shark in Australia's southwest corner in little over a year. Sharks kill fewer than one swimmer a year in Australia on average.

Great white: Government officials are now hunting the shark using bait after three fatal attacks in the area in two months

Close proximity: A great white shark killed the American just 11 miles from another fatal shark attack off Western Australia state only 13 days ago

Idyllic location: Wainwright was killed off the coast of Rottnest Island during a solo dive

Despite fears of a rogue killer shark, experts say different ones are most likely responsible for the attacks.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett, the leader of the state government, said this shark will be hunted and killed if possible.

Fisheries officers today set tuna-baited hooks off the island, the first time authorities have used an emergency legal exemption from the state protection of great whites as an endangered species in the interests of protecting the public.

Mr Barnett also said his government would consider shark culls, responding to locals' complaints that shark numbers are increasing off bustling beaches in one of Australia's fastest growing population areas.

Referring to the three recent deadly attacks, Western Australia state Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said today: 'This is a unique set of circumstances, and I'm desperately praying this is not the beginning of a new trend and we're going to have these on a regular basis.'

Water Police Senior Sergeant Greg Trew said Wainwright had surfaced in 'a flurry of bubbles' with 'horrific' injuries.

Hunt begins: Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett, left, said bait would be used to lure the shark and kill it, while Water Police Senior Sergeant Greg Trew, right, described Wainwright's injuries as 'horrific'

Expat: Wainwright is believed to be the third person killed by a great white in the state in two months and the fourth in just over a year. Sharks kill fewer than one swimmer a year in Australia on average

Another death: This coastline by Perth is where the 64-year-old swimmer was killed by a shark on October 10

He was believed to be dead when hauled aboard by his two companions. Mr Trew said the shark was seen by Wainwright's friends as they were leaving the area after retrieving his body.

'It's traumatic for everyone involved, it's a tragic situation,' he added.

Police were trying to contact the man's family and have closed off the beaches on the popular resort island. They are today interviewing witnesses so a report can be prepared for the coroner.

Authorities cannot say whether he was killed by the same shark that is believed to have taken Bryn Martin as he made his regular morning swim from Perth's premier Cottesloe Beach toward a buoy about 380 yards offshore.

But an analysis of Martin's torn swimming trunks recovered from the seabed near the buoy pointed to a great white shark being the culprit. No other trace of Martin has been found.

'It's a cloudy old day today which is the same as we had the other day with Cottesloe, and they're the conditions that sharks love,' Western Australia Police Sergeant Gerry Cassidy.

The unnamed American is the fourth person to be killed by a shark off the Western Australian coast in 14 months.

Last month, 21-year-old Kyle Burden was taken by a great white shark south of Perth and his lower torso was torn away.

In August last year surfer Nicholas Edwards, 31, killed was he was attacked by a great white at a popular surf break near Gracetown.

Great whites can grow to more than 20 feet in length and 5,000 pounds in weight. They are protected in Australia, a primary location for the species.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will attend the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth on Friday October 28.

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