Police still searching for body of Australian diver killed by great white shark

Police are still searching for the body of an Australian diver who is believed to have been killed by a great white shark while scuba diving on Sunday.

Gary Johnson was attacked soon after getting into the water as his partner Karen Milligan watched in horror from a nearby boat off Esperance on the south coast of Western Australia at around noon local time.

Ms Milligan put out a mayday alert before Glenn Quinlivan, who was on his boat at the time, raced to the scene.

“We found a couple of flippers and a wetsuit sleeve in the water, basically that was about it,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Nothing we could see. No shark.”

Ms Milligan is understood to have been taken to hospital to be treated for shock, according to the Times.

On Monday she wrote in a statement on Facebook: "Gary was my rock. He was a kind, gentle, strong man. He only ever saw the best in people. He will be so truly missed by me, by his family and his friends and the world will be a poorer place without this most beautiful man.

"He and I were at home in and on the ocean. We would go out diving in our boat whenever we could, most weekends.

"We were always aware of the risks, and often told each other that if we were attacked by a shark, that would just be unlucky. We were completely against shark culling, and I still am.

"We have watched with dismay the reduction of fish stocks over the years. We believed that if fish stocks were better protected, then the risk to people in the water would be reduced. Gary’s vision was to have a Marine Park in the Esperance area."

Esperance is located about 720 kilometers (447 miles) southeast of Perth, and is a popular spot for diving. (Getty)

The attack happened hours after a reported shark sighting in the area.

A tweet by Surf Life Saving WA posted at 5:08am said: "Public report white shark sighted 09:39hrs 05/01, Cull Island, Esperance."

Shire of Esperance councillor Shelley Payne said Sunday's news was "devastating", according to WAtoday.

Payne, who has previously campaigned for better shark awareness among tourists and the local community, said: "It's something that the community is really struggling with.”

She said that those who visited and lived in Esperance should check online about shark sightings, such as Sharksmart, and wanted clearer signage near the entrance warning people of the potential dangers.

Local politician Ian Mickel said: "We have thousands of people having a good time on the water and to get a fatal shark attack... it's a major concern.”

Esperance is located about 720km (447 miles) southeast of Perth, and is a popular spot for diving.

Johnson's death marks the second fatal attack in the area in the past three years.

In 2017, 17-year old Laeticia Brouwer was fatally injured when surfing with her father a few kilometers from Esperance.

And in 2014, one man lost his left arm and right hand in a shark attack.