The incident occurred off Mindarie Beach near Wanneroo north of Perth, minutes after lifeguards had issued a shark alert.
Collyer had reportedly been diving for crayfish with her dive-buddy, a 43-year-old man. He later reported that something large had passed him while he was submerged but that he couldn’t make it out. On ascending, he saw a “commotion in the water” and found Collyer to have suffered severe injuries.
Western Australian Police reported that three fishermen nearby had seen a shark they described as longer than their 5.5m boat. They had taken the two divers onboard and were met by an ambulance and police ashore, but Collyer was already dead.
The state Fisheries Department later said it was likely that a great white shark bigger than 3m had caused the fatality. Beaches in the area were closed and drum-lines set in a bid to catch it.
According to ABC News, Collyer had emigrated from England five years ago to be with her family and had become an Australian citizen and also an Advanced Open Water Diver. She worked as a lecturer at a nursing college.
Days earlier a surfer had died from injuries sustained after being attacked by what was also believed to be a great white, 60 miles further north.
Ten people have died from shark attacks in Western Australia over the past six years, although attacks on divers are relatively infrequent (7% last year). The state carried out a cull two years ago, leading to protests by conservationists.
According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), Australia saw 593 shark attacks last year, 79 of them in Western Australia.
2015 saw a record number of attacks worldwide, which the ISAF has put down partly to warmer seas. “Ocean temperatures that spike earlier in the season and warm a larger range of coastline draw both sharks and humans to the same waters,” says the file’s curator George Burgess. “We can and should expect the number of attacks to be higher each year.”
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