Sydney - An
elite global surfing championship in west Australia was cancelled
on Wednesday after two shark attacks near the event, organisers said.
The world's top male and female surfers had been taking part in the
12-day Margaret River Pro, which is part of the World Surf League
Championship Tour, off Australia's southwest coast since April 11.
The contest was briefly suspended on Monday morning after a local
surfer suffered leg injuries in a shark attack off nearby Gracetown,
some 260km south of the Western Australia state
A second surfer, reportedly from Denmark, suffered a gash to his leg in a second shark encounter, also near Gracetown.
"Today, the WSL has made the difficult decision to cancel the
remainder of the Margaret River Pro, as a result of exceptional
circumstances surrounding this season's event regarding sharks and the
safety of our surfers," WSL chief Sophie Goldschmidt said in a
"The WSL puts the highest premium on safety. This cannot be just talk, and it cannot be compromised."
They said while sharks were an "occasional reality" of WSL
competitions, the current circumstances were "very unusual and
The tour's co-leader, Brazilian Italo Ferreira, took to Instagram on
Tuesday to express his fears about being in the water, writing in
Portuguese that he did not feel comfortable training and competing near
the attack sites.
Fellow countryman Gabriel Medina, the 2014 WSL world champion, wrote
on Instagram that he too did not feel safe competing in the area.
Authorities had also issued an alert over a whale carcass off an area
beach, concerned the decomposing creature could attract sharks. The
carcass was removed from the area on Tuesday.
The cancellation came three years after Australian surfing great Mick
Fanning, who retired from the sport earlier this month, made global
headlines when he fought off a shark on live TV while competing in the
WSL's J-Bay Open in Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.
Fanning was not injured and that competition was cancelled after the encounter.
Experts say shark attacks are increasing as water sports become more
popular and bait fish move closer to shore, but fatalities remain rare.