A World Surf League event in Western Australia was halted midway after a shark scare led to fears for the competitors' safety. Some of the world's best surfers were forced to evacuate the waters and jet skis and helicopters were used to search for the predators during the Margaret River Pro tournament.

The bay was turned into a "feeding frenzy", according to Rich Porta, head of the World Surf League. He said the water was "pretty full of salmon and tuna", which had attracted a number of small sharks.

The organisers were concerned there could have been bigger sharks in the water and decided to err on the side of caution, calling a 20-minute break.

Despite the interruption, the event was won by Hawaii native and world number one John John Florence, who delivered a stellar performance. He told ABC he was not phased by the presence of the creatures.

"It is what it is, there's sharks, there's fish and there's whales out there and it's why we love coming here," Florence said. "It didn't bother me; we have good water patrol and it's all part of surfing in the end."

Brazil's Filipe Toledo said he did not initially realise what was going on. "There was all sorts of splashing going on and in the end we sort of had a conversation with the sharks and fish," he said.

Other participants were more distracted by the creatures.

American Kolohe Andino told Fox Sports: "We saw all these splashes and I don't think either of us could really surf after that.

"I paddled over and said 'I think there's sharks out here'. I saw so many fish swimming under me and I know the big fish follow the small fish. They said we could go on hold and I said 'OK', because I couldn't really think."