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Saved by a mate
Martin Kane with his damaged surf ski at Mullaloo. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

A surf ski paddler attacked by a 3.5m shark threw his paddle at the thrashing grey predator in a moment of defiance as he started a desperate 150m swim to safety.

Martin Kane had been thrown into the dark ocean when the shark rammed his surf ski while he was out paddling with four friends south of Mullaloo early yesterday.

Safely back on land yesterday afternoon, the 62-year-old said he owed his life to his friends who rescued him.

He was convinced he was going to die as the shark latched on to his fibreglass surf ski and bit it in half.

"I thought there's no way I'm going to make it back to the beach with that size shark after me," Mr Kane said.

Friend Dale Gration paddled alongside him after the attack and told him to jump on the back of his ski, racing to the shore with Mr Kane clinging on.

The Kallaroo grandfather admitted the stories of previous shark attacks flashed through his mind as he watched the predator wrestling with his 3.65m ski.

In April, leading shark researcher Rory McAuley said WA was the deadliest place in the world for shark attacks after the death of Peter Kurmann.

The 33-year-old Vasse father, who was killed while diving offshore near Bunbury in March, was the fourth fatal shark attack victim off WA since September.

Dr McAuley examined Mr Kane's broken surf ski yesterday but was unable to determine the type of shark responsible for the attack because a section of the craft was missing.

Surf Life Saving WA community safety manager Chris Peck said the attack showed the importance of going in the water with a group so there was someone to help if something went wrong.

The beach was closed for several hours after the incident.

Less than an hour after Mr Kane's close call, a Warnbro crab fisherman and his deckhand had their own terrifying experience when a 5-6m great white shark attacked one of their crab pots, hitting their boat and nearly flinging them into the water.

Dr McAuley said the increase in shark sightings suggested there were more animals off the metropolitan coast but it was not clear if the predator's numbers had risen.

"It probably indicates an increase in the local abundance, whether that actually indicates an increase in the population is less certain," he said.

Fisheries officers spent a number of hours searching for the two sharks to tag them but were unsuccessful.

Rattled by the encounter, Mr Kane said he felt lucky to be alive.

But he vowed not to let it stop him getting back in the water. In fact, he said he hoped to be paddling again by Saturday.

On the idea of culling sharks, Mr Kane said: "It's their domain, they're very lethal fish and they've got as much right to be there as I have."