'A wonderful man': search called off for British swimmer killed in Australia shark attack

By Rhona Shennan
Monday, 8th November 2021, 11:59 am
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 1:32 pm
Paul Millachip and his wife (Photo: PA/WA Police)
Paul Millachip and his wife (Photo: PA/WA Police)

The search for British man Paul Millachip who was killed in a shark attack in Australia has been called off.

Authorities said that “enquiries will continue based on anything that is washed up or anything that’s found in the future, but at this point the marine search is suspended”.

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Mr Millachip’s wife described the 57-year-old as a “wonderful man” and “wonderful father”.

What happened?

Mr Millachip was reportedly attacked by a Great White shark whilst he was swimming at Port Beach in North Fremantle on Sunday (6 November).

According to reports, onlookers said that it appeared that he had also been attacked by a tiger shark.

He is believed to have been taken by at least one shark, with witnesses saying that they saw him struggling in the water and then being “dragged under”.

Over the weekend, land, air and sea patrols were conducted, however they returned no results.

On Saturday, Western Australia Police Senior Sergeant Troy Douglas said that the attack had been witnessed by four teenage boys in a dinghy.

He said: “They [saw] what was going on in the water… a person being attacked by a shark… and they have alerted emergency services straight away.”

On Sunday (7 November), police called off their search for Mr Millachip after a pair of goggles believed to have belonged to him were found. The goggles have been sent for testing.

Douglas previously said the father-of-two was a regular at the beach and that a pair of goggles believed to belong to him had been recovered.

He added: “Enquiries will continue based on anything that is washed up or anything that’s found in the future, but at this point the marine search is suspended.”

While the beach was closed over the weekend, it reopened on Monday, with visitors urged to “remain vigilant”.

What has his family said?

Mr Millachip’s wife, who did not wish to be named, told Australian broadcasters of her thanks for the efforts of teenagers on a nearby boat who helped raise the alarm.

She said: “A special mention to those young lads in the boat for what they did in what must have been an absolutely terrifying experience for them, so my heart goes out to them and I thank them for what they did.

“Rest in peace, Paul. He died [doing] what he enjoyed doing the most, which was exercising.

“He was a wonderful man, a wonderful father, and he loved his exercise.”

She added both their families were currently overseas and said she was grateful for the support from her local friends.

“I also just wanted to say thank you to all of our friends here in Perth for all the support and love that you’ve shown us and that’s really appreciated because both of our families are overseas and obviously we’ve been talking to them as well, but it’s hard because they may not be able to travel here to be with us,” she said, adding she was also appreciative for the work of police and other emergency services.

“We’ve been through in quite a lot of detail what they’ve been doing and how the search has panned out, and they’ve been extremely thorough and extremely professional and we’re really, really grateful for that.

“I wanted to thank also the eyewitnesses, there’s a number of eyewitnesses who have given very, very valuable accounts and that’s helped piece together what’s happened, so we can be very clear that it was actually Paul involved.

“It came out of the blue. But it did happen, you just have to deal with it.”

How common are shark attacks in Australia?

According to Australia Wide First Aid, in 2020, Australia saw 22 unprovoked shark encounters, which is over 38% of the worldwide total.

There were eight fatalities, seven of which were attributed to shark attacks that were unprovoked, which accounted for more than 50% of the worldwide total fatalities.

No fatalities were recorded in 2019, however there were still 17 confirmed unprovoked shark attacks that resulted in injuries to 14 people.

It states: “Shark encounters are on the increase and can occur all year round, however, the seasonal peak period occurs mostly between November to April.”

This year, there have been 17 attacks with two of them being fatal, according to Australian government agency Taronga Conservation Society.