Teenager killed by 'great white shark' off the coast of Western Australia

Police believe the 17-year-old was spearfishing when he was attacked

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A teenager has died after being attacked by a shark off the south coast of Western Australia.

Police believe the 17-year-old was spearfishing with another person when the shark, believed to be a great white, struck 425 kilometres south of Perth at Cheynes Beach, near Albany, Australia’s ABC News reported.

At 12:20pm local time, a member of the public called the police to report that they discovered a body in the water of the popular camping and fishing destination.

Police officers who arrived at the scene around 60km east of Albany confirmed the teenager had died, and had suffered injuries consistent with a shark bite.

A police spokesman said the teenager has not yet been formally identified and a report is being prepared for a coroner, but his family has been contacted.

The person accompanying the boy was not seriously injured when the shark, believed to be measuring between four to five metres, attacked.

The Department of Fisheries has urged the public to stay out of the water while officials search for the creature, and beaches in the area were closed this afternoon as the search continues.

Dr Rick Fletcher, spokesman for the Department of Fisheries, called the incident “tragic and traumatic”, and told reporters at a press conference that the shark may have been attracted by fish the pair had caught. He added that the shark may have been injured as a spear was fired at it during the attack.

Drum lines, a type of unmanned trap, have been deployed in the area to catch the shark, which will likely be killed.

“This is obviously an extremely tragic event for all the families involved and our sympathies go out to those particular families,” he said, the Guardian reported.

“We’re not looking to speculate at this stage on any of the details.

Fisheries staff were unable to confirm reports from a fisherman that he had spotted a great white in the area.

The attack occurred around 250m from where children were having swimming classes. But a spokesman for the Department of Education said the lessons would be suspended until further notice.

The attack is the eighth in Western Australia in the past five years.