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Shark Attacks Force WSL to Cancel Margaret River Pro

Sharks have thwarted the World Surf League’s attempts to host the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia. 

The competition was in question after a pair of nearby shark attacks—the second as seen in the chilling footage above—occurred in close proximity to the competition venue, according to ABC News.  Two of the top surfers for the event, Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira were outwardly vocal about their concerns.

"Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, just a few kilometers from where the event is being held," Ferreira wrote on Instagram. "Very dangerous, don't you think?"

Likewise, Medina took to his Instagram expressing his worries about not feeling safe training and competing in such an area.

The first incident occurred on Monday morning when local surfer Alejandro Travaglini was bitten at a beach near Gracetown, WA, roughly nine miles from the competition site.

“A shark popped up and pretty much ended up knocking a surfer from his board,” said surf photographer Peter Jovic who detailed the attack to ABC.

Jovic likened the incident to Mick Fanning’s shark attack at Jeffreys Bay.

"There was a lot more thrashing around. After that it was hard to see what was going on," Jovic continued to ABC. " 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."

Travaglini, who works as a crew member for the cancelled competition, was able to body surf back to shore after the attack. Friends acted quickly and tied a tourniquet around his leg with makeshift materials until he was life flighted to Royal Perth Hospital.

The next incident followed after the closure of beaches. Despite Travaglini’s attack, several shark sightings, and the findings of a washed up whale carcass nearby—many surfers found the conditions too tempting to stay away. Jason Longrass, another local surfer, claims he didn't know the beach he was surfing at was closed due to shark sightings, and was lucky enough to escape his encounter with a great white with only a 60-centimeter gash in his right leg.

“It was just heading straight for me, beelining it straight at me,” he said to Seven News Perth. “I went to slap the water, by then he made a sudden acceleration and just nailed the board. It wasn’t looking at me it was looking at the board.”

After a series of being called on and off, the WSL made the tough decision to cancel the Margaret River Pro in its entirety.  

“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,” wrote WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt in a statement. “This decision has been reached after many hours of consultation with a variety of stakeholders and experts.”

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