Shark fears force cancellation of Margaret River Pro
TWO shark attacks, surfers's fears and a string of new sightings have led to cancellation of the Margaret River Pro world tour event for the first time.
The decision was announced early on Wednesday after pressure on officials intensified when former world champion Gabriel Medina and world No.1 Italo Ferreira went public on social media with their safety concerns.
"Two shark attacks in less than 24 hours here in Australia, just a few kilometres from where the event is being held," Ferreira said on Instagram.
"Don't you think that's dangerous? Is the safety of athletes not a priority?
"I don't feel comfortable training and competing in places like this."
The event is part of the world title race, with the result crucial to many surfers chasing world crowns.
While the World Surf League has cancelled the event there are suggestions the remainder of the competition - from the women's quarter-finals on and from the men's third round on - could still be surfed at a later stage.
Australians Stephanie Gilmore and Julian Wilson, along with Bells Beach winner Italo Ferreira, went into the event with the world No.1 rankings.
It is understood there will be no change to this as the world tour heads overseas for the next leg for both women and men - the Oi Rio Pro in May.
The world tour made world headlines in 2015 after Mick Fanning punched a shark while competing at South Africa's J-Bay Open. The event was called off after the attack.
Surfing competitions in Australia and overseas have repeatedly been put on hold in the past due to shark sightings.
Kelly Slater sent the internet into overdrive when he posted GoPro footage of him surfing at Margaret River in 2014 and what looked like him being photo bombed by a shark.
Slater later denied the close call, saying the silvery object was likely the reflection of another surfer.
The women's competition was reactivated on Monday in the wake of the Gracetown shark attacks, with additional jet skis put in the water and drones in the air