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A woman whose husband drowned at an Esperance Beach last weekend has spoken of how he died trying to save her.

Amanda Robinson from Yanchep told Britain's The Sun newspaper she slipped on rocks while was fishing with her 54-year-old husband Bernard Robinson at Twilight Beach at about 10.30am on Sunday.

The woman clambered to safety but says her husband gave his life to save hers, despite relatively calm conditions.

She said Mr Robinson tried to drag her to safety with his fishing rod but he too fell into the water.

Mrs Robinson, 51, told the publication her husband tried to comfort her by joking “trust you” as they battled the surf.

"I slipped and fell. Bernard used the rod to try and pull me up, but the ocean rose and took us both in," she reportedly said.

"We were tossed around like rag dolls, pulled down deep into the ocean only to be thrown up on to rocks.

"There was just a moment to take a breath of air. This seemed to go on forever. Then, as if by magic, the ocean became calm.

"I was able to claw my way up the rock."

Mrs Robinson said she turned around to see her husband floating face down with six dolphins around him.

"Maybe the dolphins felt the distress he was in. He would have loved animals trying to help him," she said.

Two men in a small boat eventually found the unconscious man. One swam with him to shore after crashing waves threatened to flip the boat and made it too dangerous to pilot the vessel in.

A witness at the beach said another swimmer helped bring in the man before lifesavers, off-duty doctors and paramedics tried in vain to revive him. “They did everything they could to save him, ” one witness said.

The couple reportedly moved to WA from the UK in 2009.