South Australia revives its reputation as the shark capital of the world…
There’s a sign fashioned out of a plastic bag and taped to a pole at Fishery Bay, an easy righthander (called Right Point) near Port Lincoln in South Australia. Its message is as simple as it is a stark reminder of the animals surfers share the ocean with in the Southern Ocean.
“Surfers. Pointer attack this morning. KEEP OUT OF THE WATER.”
If y’haven’t heard, and why would you, shark attacks are common enough in Australia now to be related to a few paragraphs on page 12 instead of the front page, a surfer is in a critical condition after having his leg taken by a great white.
Chris Blowes, 26, was sitting upright on his board among a pack of a dozen guys, a few metres from rocks, when what one witness described as a 20-foot great white attacked and swam away with his leg and surfboard.
Port Lincoln is a tuna fishing town on the Eyre Peninsula, population 14k or thereabouts. More millionaires per square click than anywhere else in Australian, too, thanks to the abundant tuna and abalone. Plenty of fish. Plenty of sharks.
It’s a tight surf pack here. A small enough place for everyone to know everyone.
The community is hurting. What do you do when it’s your local spot? How do you saddle up again?
“The whole community is pretty torn,” says Brinkley Davies, who taped the sign to the pole. “We were out at Right Point the night before and I actually forgot my fins so I was just swimming out there and I was hanging around the suck rock, and that’s where Chris got attacked the next morning. Anything can happen and the surfing community is pretty tight down here so it rattles everyone. I really hope he’s going to be alright. My thoughts go out to his friends and family who are by his side right now.”
Brinkley says she’ll surf Right Point again, “but not for a while. I mean, it’s super sharky, everyone knows that. But it was really shallow where he got attacked.”
Last May, her boyfriend Ty Swan (click here, he’s rad) was surfing round these parts when his pal got hit by a 15-foot white. He survived with one helluva story.
As it happens, Ty is an abalone sheller which means “that if the abalone diver ever gets done he has to deal with the first aid of that.”
“It’s a hectic reality here,” says Brinkley.