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Benjamin Linden, Shark Attack Victim, Western Australia

Benjamin Linden, keen surfer

Benjamin Linden, keen surfer

Surfing was his world, according to his girlfriend Alana Noakes.

24 year Benjamin Linden had travelled up to a popular tourist area at Wedge Island, just north of Lancelin, on the Western Australian coast, from his home in Perth, for a day's surfing.

It was 9am on the 14th of July, 2012, and the day was crisp, bright, sunny and more importantly, the ocean offered perfect breakers for surfing.

Ben Linden was about to catch a wave about 100m from shore when what is described as an enormous great white shark - somewhere in the region of 5m (16ft) - appeared and took him in one bite, breaking his body cleanly in half.

A man on a jetski nearby witnessed the attack, and saw the waters rapidly filling with blood.

He had a friend on tow at the time, so raced off to shore to deposit his mate to the safety of dry land, and returned to try to rescue the remains of Ben Linden.

By the time he got back, the waters had all turned red, and the shark was circling.

He tried to grab the body, but the shark went for his jetski, trying to knock him off, so he had to retreat.

He saw the shark then take the body off into deeper waters.

Death from shark attack when cut in two

The human body contains around 8 pints of blood.

Sliced in half, you would expect the aorta, the main artery that leaves our heart and passes down to our abdomen before separating out into our femoral and inguinal artieries, to be severed.

In spite of those horrendous injuries, the heart would continue to beat for 2 or 3 minutes more allowing the rapid spillage of about 4 pints of blood, assuming one half of the body is inside a shark by this time.

Ben Linden would not have suffered, as his brain would have shut down immediately at the shock of what happened to his body.

When the heart finally stops beating, no more blood is expelled from the body.

This is partly how scientists can determine the time of death in many murder or accident victims.

Great white sharks and their diet

Great white sharks don't need to eat everyday.

One good meal can last them for up to 2 months, sometimes 3 in times of famine.

The reefs around Wedge Island are packed with seals. In fact, there has been a population explosion of seals, the natural prey of great whites, or white pointers as they are known in Australia.

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Despite reports of huge pods of great white sharks congregating in unprecedented numbers in areas of Western Australia where people bathe, there are relatively few shark attacks.

We are not their normal diet.

This shark, however, seems to be a rogue shark in the sense that it has developed a taste for human blood. It came back to finish off the meal it started.

Many victims of great white shark attack survive because the one test bite these big, dangerous sharks take of us, is usually enough for them to know we are not seals, have too many bones, and our blood is not salty enough for them.

The shark then retreats. Sometimes we die because of the damage inflicted by that one bite, but mostly we survive.

This shark, nicknamed Brutus by locals, likes the taste of humans, unusually.

Great white or white pointer shark

Great white or white pointer shark

Ben Linden

Ben Linden

Quick shark poll

Western Australia has earned the reputation of being the most deadly for shark attacks, because in recent months, a further 4 people have been killed by sharks.

All of the reports implicate a great white.

On the 5th of September, 2011, 20 year old Kyle Burden was cut in half by what is believed to be a 'large white pointer" at Bunker Bay, near Dunsborough, South Western Australia.

Just one month later, on the 10th of October, 2011, 64 year old Bryn Martin disappeared while swimming off Cottesloe Beach. All that was ever recovered were his swimming trunks, and experts decided the tears on them matched that of a great white shark attack.

On the 22nd of October, 32 year old George Thomas Wainwright was attacked underwater while scuba diving off Rottnest Island. All his friends on the boat witnessed were a huge number of bubbles coming to the surface, followed by the body of Mr Wainwright, which had "shocking injuries". A great white is suspected.

On March 31st, 2012, young father Peter Kurmann was attacked while diving off Stratham Beach. The attack happened in deep water, and his brother on the boat only saw an enormous dark shape in the water. Mr Kurmann's injuries were horrendous and fatal, which suggest he may well have been cut in half too. Experts believe the shark that attacked him to be a 16 foot white pointer.

14th of July, Benjamin Linden, Wedge Island.

I can't help thinking that the same shark is involved in each case.

To inflict the injuries reported, it would have to be about 4 - 5m (13 - 16ft) long.

If all 4 - 5m long great whites were man-eaters, we would be hearing about shark attack deaths daily, not just now and again (Australia normally sees one fatal shark attack a year).

The question is, when is it going to attack again?

Not if, but when.

emergency service on scene at Wedge Island, Western Australia

emergency service on scene at Wedge Island, Western Australia

The Western Australian authorities set up a shark trap to try and catch the shark, but the baited hooks were removed hours later.

Great white sharks are a protected species in Australia, but exceptions can be made.

This shark needs to be caught and removed from the waters, for the safety of the people who use the sea for recreational activities.

The Western Australian coastline is 20,781km (12,912miles) long, but that is nothing to an adult great white shark who can swiftly cover those distances easily.

Let's have a look at where those fatal attacks have taken place.

As you can see, they are not very far apart at all.

Everyone swimming in this whole stretch of coastline is at risk from this shark until it is caught.

There are thousands of great white sharks in this general area, but only one is a killer.

Brutus has to be found, or else there will be more deaths.

Within hours of Ben Linden's tragic death, surfers were back in the same waters where he was killed, despite shark warning notices and the beaches being closed.

By the law of averages, they would have been safe enough.

The killer shark had been fed, and would not have been looking for more victims at that point in time.

Ben Linden surfing

Ben Linden surfing

Alana Noakes's tribute to Ben Linden

Ben Linden's long-time girlfriend, Alana Noakes, left a beautiful tribute on his Facebook page, which I am happy to share with you.

It read:

"I'm devastated to let everyone know that my beautiful man, Ben Linden, was the surfer who was taken by the shark at Wedge this morning...

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

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 soulmate.

I, like everyone who knew him, absolutely cherish every moment of the last 8 years I spent with him.

He has helped me to be a better person, to learn to 'ride the waves' of life.

Let's remember that he was doing something that meant the world to him. Surfing was his soul, his life, his culture and his passion.

He loved mother nature in all her glory and is now in her arms eternally. Let's rejoice in that."

To Alana, and to Ben's family, we at Sharkfacts send our deepest condolences.

Ben and Alana

Shark attack victim Ben Linden with girlfriend Alana Noakes

Shark attack victim Ben Linden with girlfriend Alana Noakes


Mazen on November 09, 2016:

I loved it sooooooooooo much!

bree on November 30, 2012:

im sorry for your loss that's why im writeing a report about it .

sharkfacts (author) from UK on October 09, 2012:

Alana ((((bug hugs)))

Thank you for responding. I know it must be still a very painful time for you and Ben's family. Let's just hope the authorities can find a way of taking this shark out, and/or protecting surfers and swimmers so that no-one else needs to suffer such a devastating loss in the future.

Alana on October 09, 2012:

Thank you for writing that he didn't suffer, although in a slightly gory manner. I can confirm it was over almost instantly but there would have been some initial fear as he saw the shark coming towards him. Although the other surfer who was with Ben reported no fear at all due to so much adrenaline going through their bodies.

You have a good point about a possible 'rogue' shark. That's a scary thought though. I was under the impression that great white sharks tend to take an initial bite of a victim but then diregard it if its human. Our 'rogue' shark hasn't been doing that, he's been taking whole bodies. With all the shark sightings daily (see SharkAlarm website) it's just a matter of time until the next attack. Especially as you said they eat about every 2-3 months. Time is almost up.

Thanks for your condolences sharkfacts to myself and ben's family. Appreciated x

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

You may have a point in your second paragraph, but rest easy - this lad would not have been aware of anything from the moment those jaws shut. The massive trauma to his body would have shut his brain down immediately, and he would not have suffered.

achow on July 16, 2012:

Oh man, what a terrible way to go! Presumably he was still conscious and able to contemplate the horror of his situation while he was bisected and then shredded and devoured. The stuff of nightmares.

Too much machismo in the surfing community and too many bleeding hearts in the environmentalist community got this poor kid slaughtered.

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

Bob, you are talking about the USS Indianapolis, but did I get my dates wrong?

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

Cynthia, the backlash in Australia at the moment is heading towards hysterical if not already there. The authorities want central government to change the law to allow a shark cull, and tourism seems to be badly affected in the area. You can see that the drop in tourism is their main priority, and that is understandable too. Politicians have to be seen to be doing something. I'm not sure what the answer is, to be honest, except to stay out of the water.

Bob on July 16, 2012:

1100 men went into the water.

316 came out.

Sharks took the rest.

June 29, 1945

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on July 16, 2012:

Of course the big problem is identifying which great white shark is doing the attacking, or even if all these attacks were undertaken by the same shark. Overfishing, cage diving, and 'chumming' the water so that sharks associate humans with food all probably play a part in the rise in shark attacks, but at the end of the day you know the risks when you get in the water. You wouldn't casually stroll across the Serengeti and be surprised when you got attacked by a lion. But statistically getting in your car is far more dangerous than getting in the ocean, so let's hope that there is no hysterical backlash, as then only the sharks would suffer.

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

@Justin, I am inclined to agree with you that shark culling is the wrong move. There is every chance that they will catch tagged sharks too, and that vital data will be lost. The idea is a bit like King Herod ordering all baby boys put to death, to make sure the forecast baby Jesus wouldn't survive. Why kill all the sharks because of one or two? That is really interesting what you are saying about odd numbers of fish and the appearance of previously unseen ones. Again, this could all be related to overfishing at sea, and overfishing of our apex predators. You can't almost wipe out a species without it having a knock-on effect elsewhere. Thinking too of the bluefin tuna which are almost extinct thanks to overfishing. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

@Taffy, you raise some interesting points but I am sorry to say I disagree with much of it. I think there are such things as 'rogue sharks' but they are very few and far between. Jaws was written around the assumption of a 'rogue shark', but the idea is old hat and has lost favour with many scientists. I honestly do believe we have a man-eater on our hands in Western Australia - it is rare but happens. You will know yourself, Australia normally sees one fatal shark attack a year, not 5 and all in the same coastal area. This is pointed out in the article above. Annually across the world we have less than 10 fatal shark attacks a year, but the rate is rising, as more and more of us take up watersports in areas where sharks reside. As apex predators, white pointers try to eat everything in the ocean they come across - or at least they take a nibble of it to see what it is, and some gets swallowed, which explains the licence plates, old bike wheels and all sorts of inedible stuff - but most leave humans alone. Why is that? Why do some take a bite, and others don't? Often they take a bite then disappear. Occasionally they make a repeat attack. I am not trying to scare anyone, but there is no way I would go into waters where sharks are known to live, yet thousands of people do so every day. I may well be more likely to die from a lightning strike, or falling coconuts, but I will take my chance!

This is a huge issue and many of the points you raise are covered in my others articles on sharks and shark behaviour. Click on my username at the top and it will take you to another page of articles I have written about sharks. The Increases in Shark Attacks, or The Link Between Cage Diving and Shark Attacks for example. You don't have to agree with me, but this is an area where we hope scientists can learn enough through shark tagging and observations, to teach us how to avoid shark attacks and enjoy the oceans safely.

Justin on July 16, 2012:

I don't believe we need to start killing pointers again, eventually they will move on. I do agree there is more around in the last couple of years as I have been seeing them whilst fishing off Albany in my boat. But we have also seen whale sharks and been catching Spanish mackel which is unusual also. I personally think it's a cycle caused by changes in weather. Not to mention that they are now no longer commercial salmon fishing down south either and the salmon stocks are massive. There is a lot of contributing factors and I really hope they look into these before they decide to start culling pointers on the west coast.


sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 16, 2012:

@Stephanie - I'm not sure global warming is related to the movement of sharks, though some may disagree. I think part of the problem is overfishing at sea. The seal populations may be re-locating because their main diet is fish and so they will move to where the remaining fish are. They could also be increasing in numbers as more sharks become endangered thanks to the practice of shark finning. Seals are definitely a food source for great whites, so I wouldn't swim in any waters where seals are. And you are right, sharks can't spot the difference between a seal and a surf-board, until they take a bite.

TaffyAbroad on July 16, 2012:

Couple comments here underline that we just don't know enough about these animals to be making statements such as "rogue shark" and "has taste for humans" Why "rogue" ? Other sharks comply with human laws and beliefs that we should be able to enter the sea and yet be immune from the natural laws that govern life and behaviour?? Why "taste for humans?" True some of the very very few people who are bitten survive after been bitten and left alone, but others either completely or partially disappear (as is noted on this page). Also, given the contents that have been found in sharks' stomachs-boots, dogs, metal cans, rope, chain...I doubt that we are dealing with a gourmand species. There are other contradictions on this posting too: the assertion regarding feeding frequency and the dates of the attacks conflict with the assertion that one and the same shark is involved. It might be, there was a similar spate of three attacks off the South Australian coast in the 60s, when I began spearfishing there . But we don't know.

One thing we do know. Death by shark attack is possibly the most easily avoided of all: simply by standing under a tree. We need be careful about choice of tree though. Many more people die from falling coconuts each year than by shark attack. Let's try to keep horrible and sad events such as this latest attack in perspective, and not fuel the hysteria with unfounded assertions.

Stephanie on July 15, 2012:

Thank you. I think we are also seeing more of these guys because in some areas the oceans are warmer than previous years. Or perhaps a local food source for these guys has increased. I'm in SoCal and we are seeing seals turn up now on local beaches that they didn't used to frequent so much. Seals are a food source and sharks probably can't spot the difference between them and a canoe or surfboard.

sharkfacts (author) from UK on July 15, 2012:

OK, I totally get your point and will remove them. It is hard to get a balance between what is natural in nature and our emotional attachment to our fellow human beings. I still think that we have just one man-eating shark out there in this location. There could be more of course, but sharks can be compared to rottweilers, or other so-called 'devil dogs'. Most make great pets, but some can turn. Not that I am suggesting sharks would ever make pets, but most leave us well alone. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

Stephanie on July 15, 2012:

Please, the "half a meal" comments are unnecessary. I get that you are making the connection between feeding and the attacks, but what about a phrase like "feeding incomplete/complete". These victims were people and not a half finished MacDonalds. Good luck I hope we can figure out how we can coexist and enjoy the ocean.

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