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Closed: Fisheries officers patrol the beach south of Wedge Island on quadbikes after the attack took the life of a surfer on Saturday. Picture: John Mokrzycki
The West Australian Closed: Fisheries officers patrol the beach south of Wedge Island on quadbikes after the attack took the life of a surfer on Saturday. Picture: John Mokrzycki

It's known as "Dolphins" because of the friendly playmates that often join the surfers on the waves and its reputation for providing the perfect break was no doubt part of the lure that attracted Perth mates Ben Linden and Ryan Soulis to Wedge Island.

By all accounts it was a beautiful morning at the coastal haven about 180km north of Perth - the kind of day when the waves seem to stretch for ever and provide a dream ride for surfers.

But shortly after 9am on Saturday, a 4m great white shark eyeballed Mr Soulis before leaping out of the water to savage Mr Linden in WA's fifth fatal shark attack since September last year.

"I don't think anyone expects a shark attack at Wedge Island," surfer Tim Hancock said as he watched the break at Dolphins about 24 hours after the attack.

"For people who come to Wedge it's their safe place, where they get away from all the action in the city."

Witness accounts of the attack were simply the stuff of nightmares.

Matt Holmes told reporters on Saturday that the monster nudged his jet ski as he tried to retrieve Mr Linden's remains from the blood-stained water.

The 22-year-old did not know Mr Linden but felt compelled to retrieve his remains.

Back on shore, Mr Soulis was comforted by a resident who has lived at Wedge Island for more than 30 years. He was clearly in shock and ambulance officers gave him oxygen once they arrived.

It was overcast at Wedge Island yesterday and a stiff, cold breeze made conditions at Dolphins messy.

As his toddler slept in the car and his dog ran on the sand, Mr Hancock said he had been surfing the break for almost 20 years but would wait for fine weather, "super clear water" and more people in the water before heading back into the surf.

When asked what drew him to the spot, Mr Hancock said people only had to look around at the pristine sand and turquoise water to see for themselves and he highlighted the area's isolation, despite its close proximity to Perth, and the family nature of the settlement.

"It's always been a good fun surf break to surf," he said.

"The water is always warm, it's a friendly place to surf, a good place.

"We were thinking we would surf today if there were clear skies. Not here (at Dolphins), maybe a bit further north. We probably wouldn't be sitting too deep, we would be looking around, that's for sure."

As Mr Hancock spoke, Mr Linden's family issued a statement thanking those who assisted in the search for the 24-year-old cabinetmaker from Osborne Park, who also played bass guitar in a band called Fools Rush In.

Dozens of tributes were posted on Facebook, including a heartfelt message from his high school sweetheart Alana Noakes.

She wrote that she was grateful her lover had touched so many lives in his 24 years and reminded mourners he died doing something he loved, which was his "soul, his life, his culture and his passion".

"Ben was the most amazing man, he lit up the lives of all who knew him," Ms Noakes wrote.

"He was the most talented, good-natured, beautiful person I've ever met. He was the love of my life, my best friend, my rock and my soul mate."

Others spoke of their devastation and love for the young man who loved his surfing, his music, his family and, of course, Ms Noakes.

As fisheries officers on quad bikes scoured the beach and a boat searched the water near baited lines around Dolphins, swimmers braved the water about 4km north, near the Wedge Island settlement.

"It's always in the back of your mind, but when do you go back? At some point you have to get back on the horse," surfer Michael Waddell said as his children played nearby in the surf.

"The numbers are obviously getting higher but you look out there, the sun is shining and there are perfect right handers, it's pretty hard to stop going out there, isn't it?"

Moments after running from the surf, Gordon Stimson conceded sharks were always in the back of his mind but "you can't keep a surfer out of the water".

He said a resident bronze whaler, believed to be 2.5m in length, had become a familiar sight and was known as "Bruce" to his children, who also spotted a whale swimming through the bay on Friday.