The West

Shark took Cott swimmer, inquest hears
Shark took Cott swimmer, inquest hears

A swimmer who disappeared off Cottesloe last year was attacked and killed by a great white shark, police and a shark expert have told an inquest into his suspected death today.

State Coroner Alastair Hope indicated he would find that 64-year-old Bryn Martin was killed by a shark while going for his regular morning swim at Cottesloe Beach on October 10 last year.

Closing the inquest into Mr Martin's death, Mr Hope said there was overwhelming evidence that the keen swimmer had died and that he was taken by a great white.

Mr Hope indicated his findings would reach the conclusion that Mr Martin's death was an accident.

His family declined to comment when leaving court this afternoon.

Mr Martin, who was described by his family as a strong swimmer, had taken a morning swim at Cottesloe Beach for more than a decade, Counsel assisting the coroner Sergeant Lyle Housiaux told the court.

On the morning of his disappearance, Mr Martin had gone on his regular morning swim to a buoy about 500m offshore.

He was last seen swimming towards the buoy about 150-200m from shore.

His ripped bathers were found on the ocean floor but despite an extensive sea and air search, no other trace of Mr Martin has ever been found.

Today, Department of Fisheries senior research scientist Rory McAuley, who examined the bathers, told the inquest the tear marks on Mr Martin's blue and black Speedos were consistent with the bite marks of a white shark.

Cottesloe Police Senior Sergeant Denise Grant told the inquest she believed there was no doubt Mr Martin was attacked and killed by a shark.
Outside court, Sen. Sgt Grant said the family was relieved and thankful for the investigation into Mr Martin's death.

"They're very thankful for the investigators and all of those involved in the search process for their missing husband and father," she said.

She said the inquest would hopefully provide the family with some closure after what had been a difficult 14 months.

"I spoke to Diane (Mr Martin' wife) and she's very relieved. This is a good day," Sen. Sgt. Grant said.

Opening the inquest this morning, Sgt Housiaux said witnesses recalled seeing splashing and a disturbance in the water as well as a dark shadow in the vicinity where Mr Martin was last seen.

But no witnesses could confirm seeing Mr Martin being attacked by a shark or getting into any difficulty in the water.

The inquest was told that in response to a number of shark fatalities in WA, the Government announced a series of initiatives, including research projects, to help reduce the number of shark attacks.

Outside court, Dr McAuley said white sharks were a rare species and it was crucial that research be allowed continue so they could be better understood.

"We're now entering the data collection phase where we hope, in a few years time, to collect enough data on sharks occurring in these areas to work out what the environmental conditions and patterns are that lead to patterns in sharks' movements."

According to a Department of Fisheries report released last month, the risk of white shark attacks remains very small but has increased slowly over the past two decades with an unprecedented number of attacks in the 12 months to September 2011, the inquest was told.

Speaking about the findings of recent research, Dr McAuley said: "attacks have occurred much more frequently some distance off shore, they tend to have been more frequent in cooler water conditions, which might be expected for a species which prefers cooler temperate waters".

"I wouldn't say there is any usual pattern of attack and therefore I wouldn't say there is usually any particularly unusual pattern of attack," he said.

Mr Hope is expected to deliver his findings later this month or early next year.

The West Australian

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