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Five fishermen stranded off coast after shark bites inflatable boat

The men were found hours after authorities were notified the group had not returned to shore.

Five fishermen were left stranded in the ocean off the coast of Western Australia for hours on Saturday night after their inflatable boat was bitten by a shark.

The group went out fishing in Alexander Bay, on the state's southern coast about 700km from Perth, around 5pm, but when they didn't return, police and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) were notified and launched a search and rescue operation.

After being found by authorities at around 3am on Sunday, the crew explained that while catching a shark and trying to reel it in, the large fish bit into the front of their boat and they began sinking.

Black and white screenshots from rescue aircraft finding the sinking boat after a shark bit into it with men waving in Western Australia.
The five men were stranded on their damaged boat off the WA coast for hours after a shark bit into it. Source: AMSA

"[We] located the vessel semi-submerged and drifting with five people on board waving," an AMSA spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia on Monday. "A volunteer vessel recovered all five survivors and returned them to Esperance for medical assessment." The men were tired and cold but uninjured.

Took hours to locate fishermen

Jacob Ovesby, an Esperance local and skipper of the boat, told the ABC after their boat was bitten and began taking on water, fuel lines and the engine were damaged and they could not start the vessel, so they dropped the anchor to stop themselves from drifting and waited to be found.

Mr Ovesby added how thankful he was that people noticed they'd not returned and called for help. "That's probably the most important thing," he said.

In September, an inflatable catamaran on its way from Vanuatu to Cairns was attacked by a school of sharks and the three men on board were rescued by AMSA after they set off their emergency beacon.

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