The wife of a shark attack victim has described her husband as a ‘lovely man’ and a ‘wonderful father’, as beachgoers are warned the number of shark attacks are rising.
British expat Paul Millachip, 57, is believed to have been taken by a 4.5 metre shark while swimming at a beach in North Fremantle in Perth on Saturday morning – with the attack witnessed by multiple people.
Despite a large search effort over two days at Port Beach, all that has been found of Mr Millachip is a pair of swimming googles.
Experts have since warned that there is likely a big shark at ‘most popular beaches’ the majority of the time.
Paul Millachip and his wife (pictured) were at Port Beach in North Fremantle when Mr Millachip was attacked by a shark
A search (pictured) has been called off for the 57-year-old swimmer who was mauled by a shark in North Fremantle on Saturday
Four teenage boys who were on the sand said they saw the shark and zipped along the shoreline in their dinghy frantically warning other swimmers and surfers to get out of the water.
‘I didn’t see exactly what type the shark was but it was mammoth. From the fin to the rear tail was pretty big distance,’ one of the teenagers said.
Speaking on Sunday afternoon Mr Millachip’s wife – who did not want her name released – said her husband died doing what he loved, which was out enjoying the surf and keeping fit.
‘Rest in peace Paul,’ she said.
She thanked authorities for ‘being extremely thorough’ and the support of friends as their families are both in the UK.
She also said she was grateful to the group of boys who had helped explain what happened.
‘It must have been an absolutely terrifying experience for them, so my heart goes out to them,’ she said, her voice wavering.
‘I thank them for what they did.
‘Amazing. They could potentially have saved other lives.’
The teenagers also called emergency services in the moments between spotting the attack and warning other beachgoers.
Mr Millachip regularly swam at the beach on Saturday morning.
Local councils have closed Port Beach and all beaches from Leighton Dog beach to Sand Tracks beach
‘We had been going down to the beach two or three times a week – we would go running first and then go swimming,’ his wife said.
‘He was due to swim for 1km on Saturday – I just went into the water and out again because it was cold and I’m not a huge fan of the cold water.’
Mr Millachip was a regular at the popular beach, and his wife and two adult children were there at the time of the attack.
‘I was … where the change rooms are,’ she said.
Mr Millachip loved cycling and was an experienced swimmer who would compete in triathlons and marathons.
‘He’d done six Iron Men (competitions) down at Busselton, so he was fit and healthy.’
Police confirmed the extensive marine search for the father of two would be suspended on Sunday afternoon.
‘A family is now grieving, a man has lost his life. It’s a terribly sad situation,’ WA Premier Mark McGowan said earlier on Sunday.
All beaches in the area will remain remain closed at least until Monday.
The attack happened at 10am (local time) at Port Beach, 16km south west of the centre of Perth
The latest incident follows warnings that shark attacks are increasing.
In the 1990s there were 82 recorded shark attacks in Australia, which jumped to 161 in the following decade.
From 2010 to 2020 there were 220 and in 2021 there have been 18 attacks with two of them confirmed as deadly.
Bond’s University researcher Dr Daryl McPhee said the rise in attacks worldwide was down to a number of factors including more people being on the water doing activities, in more remote locations, and also warmer oceans are forcing shark and their food supply to different areas.
A 57-year-old has been missing since Saturday after a suspected great white shark attacked him 30metres off Port Beach.
‘There is a long term trend of an increasing number of shark bites in Australia and overseas,’ Dr McPhee told The Project.
‘Sharks are part of the marine environment and if we could track where every shark was you would find there would be a large shark on most popular beaches most days of the year.’
‘So we need to find ways to co-exist.’
Professor Callum Brown from Macquarie University said despite the increase in shark attacks they are still exceptionally rare.
He added that old school methods of shark control such as nets, drum lines, and culls were being replaced with newer methods which are potentially more accurate.
Water police were coordinating a marine search for the victim, who is understood to have been attacked 30m offshore
One such method is to deploy drones which scan the water and send images to an artificial intelligence computer which can accurately spot sharks.
There are also personal deterrents which work by emitting an electrical pulse but these have the be used within metres from a shark to be effective.
And finally there are camouflage wetsuit and surfboard decals which can prevent surfers from appearing like seals to hungry sharks.
‘Our fear is really, it’s driven by guts. Not really by any data or any sort of realistic estimate of what the actual risk is. You should be more scared of getting in your car.’ he said.