A shark attack at Cobblestones Beach near Gracetown, WA, put the event at Margaret River on hold. According to reports, 37-year-old Margaret River resident Alejandro Travaglini was bitten by a shark at around 7:45 am. An ambulance and helicopter rescue team were sent to the scene.
“A shark popped up and pretty much ended up knocking a surfer from his board,” surf photographer Peter Jovic, who witnessed the attack, told ABC. “There was a lot more thrashing around. After that, it was hard to see what was going on. [I] saw the guy who had been attacked get separated from the [surf] board and then start to paddle for an inside wave, which he managed to body surf all the way in. They got him to shore and started working on him to stem the bleeding.”
A spokesman from the ambulance service said the victim was breathing and conscious on the way to Royal Perth hospital. He told reporters that Travaglini’s friends were integral in saving his life, using their leashes as tourniquets to stem the flow of blood.
With all eyes on the nearby contest at Margaret River, WSL officials decided to put the event on hold—and considering Mick Fanning’s close call at the J-Bay Open in 2015, it seems like a good call. “The World Surf League (WSL) has been alerted to a shark incident that occurred near Gracetown,” a WSL spokesman said. “We are placing the Margaret River Pro on hold while we work with local authorities on next steps. The safety of our surfers and staff is a top priority for the WSL. We have mitigation protocols in place and will be enhancing those when competition resumes.”
According to The West Australian, John John and Nathan Florence encountered two large sharks during a free surf in the days leading up the Margaret River Pro. Nathan Florence posted a video to his Instagram that captures the sharks in the area. “We saw a splash,” John John explains in the video, “so we put the contest on hold and decided to put the drone up to check out what was going on… and we found two sharks.”